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ESSENTIAL TREMORS – SHAKE OFF THE SHAKINESS

A nerve disorder, Essential tremor (ET) is not a life-threatening disease but can affect different body parts. This neurological condition is often characterized by uncontrollable shaking in different body parts including head, tongue, hands, chin, arms and larynx. A majority of people are able to live normal lives with this condition. However, it is only when these tremors become extreme that they can cause disability.

Who are affected by essential tremors?
One of the most common movement disorder, it is estimated that more than 10 million people in the USA have got affected by this disease. This neurological disease can affect a person falling in any age bracket; however, it most commonly strikes a person in his middle age or during adolescence.

What causes essential tremor?
Essential tremor is known to be a hereditary disease, meaning it runs in families. Studies have shown that 6 out of every 10 people with essential tremor have a family member suffering from the same problem. Genes that are passed on from our parents determine how we will look like, even what diseases we will get. But it is still not clearly understood how the genetic changes in parents can lead to essential tremor.

Common symptoms attached to this disorder
The primary and the only symptom that defines essential tremor is a tremor. However, other secondary symptoms associated with this disorder include:

 

    • Shaking voice

 

    • Uncontrollable shaking for a brief period of time

 

    • Nodding head

 

    • Balance problem

 

    • Tremors that worsen with purposeful movements

 

  • Tremors during period of emotional stress

You may be able to control the tremors and they may become less obvious if you are working on the affected body part. The uncontrolled shaking associated with essential tremor is not unique to this disorder. There are many different diseases which have similar symptoms to essential tremor. Other different diseases or factors that can also cause tremors include:

 

    • Multiple sclerosis

 

    • Parkinson’s disease

 

    • Brain tumors

 

    • Fatigue after exercise

 

    • Drug withdrawal symptoms

 

    • Metabolic abnormalities

 

  • Extreme emotional distress

How to diagnose essential tremor?
Meet a specialist who will help you diagnose essential tremor based on specific symptoms and neurological exam. However, there is no specific test such as urine or blood test to diagnose the disease.

Treatment of essential tremor
No treatment is also an option if you are dealing with mild tremors. However, if you are suffering from extreme essential tremor that interferes with your ability to function, there are treatments that help you improve symptoms. Treatments include:

Medication
Oral drugs can help reduce the severity of ET. Various drug options include Mysoline, Propranolol, Inderal, Neurontin, the tranquilizers Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan, and Valium. Alternatively, Botox is also seen as a treatment option. Botox is best when used for the treatment of head and vocal tremors. Doctors often start with a low dose and continue up till the tremors are erased completely.

Surgery
One of the best surgical treatments for patients suffering from essential tremor is deep brain stimulation (DBS). This procedure involves surgical implantation of electrical leads into the thalamus, which is an area of the brain that coordinates muscle control which is thought to be the affected area in essential tremor.

Can ET be prevented?
As no exact cause of essential tremor is known, thus there is no way to prevent it. However, as researches have shown a genetic link associated with essential tremor, therefore, doctors and researchers have been coming up with effective treatments and ways to prevent it.
There are various treatments that provide relief from the symptoms of essential tremor. Your doctor will recommend you an individual treatment to help you reduce the tremors.

FAQ about Essential Tremor

  • Is Essential Tremor a progressive disease?

     

    Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that progresses slowly and causes shaking hands, face, and other parts of the body. Usually, the disease does not pose a danger to life or violate the intellectual capabilities and cognitive functions of a person. It also does not lead to troubles with movement. But, despite this, it worsens the performance and can negatively affect the quality of life. Genetic factors are considered the main cause of ET. The intensity may grow due to an array of other factors:

    • nervousness resulting from mental stress or emotional instability;
    • lack of sleep;
    • consumption of coffee and energy drinks;
    • hypothermia.

    ET can be triggered by tumors in the brain, thyrotoxicosis, kidney and liver problems, injuries, hemorrhage. As soon as you start to feel shaky sensations, it is crucial to obtain proficient medical care from highly qualified neurologists to understand the sources of trembling and how it can be handled.

  • Are Essential Tremors serious?

     

    Many diseases are accompanied by hand shakiness. One of them is essential tremor. Suffering due to the condition, a patient may experience involuntary quivering movements and other unpleasant symptoms that can affect the performance and interfere with normal daily activity. The disease is treatable and is characterized by slow progression. Moreover, in most cases, it doesn’t lead to disability.
    ET can occur in adulthood and aggravate with old age. In addition to the hands trembling, tremors can cause involuntary movement of muscles in the throat and, as a result, voice quavering. The condition is not considered dangerous since its manifestation is usually mild. However, accurate diagnosis is imperative, first of all, to exclude Parkinson’s disease.

  • Can essential tremor go away?

     

    Shakiness that may occur in the hands is not always dangerous. However, sometimes it can signal a more serious disorder that must be handled and treated properly with the assistance of a neurologist to avoid severe complications. And even if most tremors are not easily managed, if it is not provoked by other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, it can go away on its own without taking medications or other remedies.
    If the tremor keeps bothering you and intensifies, it is a strong reason to schedule a consultation with a specialist who is capable of competent diagnosing and designing a comprehensive treatment plan that probably will consist of lifestyle adjustments and drugs to reduce shakiness.

  • What is the best treatment for essential tremor?

     

    Making healthier lifestyle choices, control of caffeine and alcohol consumption, developing tactics for coping with stress, and learning how to relax may be a good start for fighting ET. Also, there are drugs that inhibit the progression of essential tremor and minimize its severity:

    • appropriate doses of vitamin B6 contribute to a gradual slowdown in the progression of tremors;
    • the drug that significantly reduces the amplitude of trembling of the limbs is the beta-blocker propranolol;
    • control of pulse rate and blood pressure is pivotal since this group of drugs slows down the pulse and lower blood pressure;
    • the magnitude of tremors can be managed by taking another beta-blocker that is metoprolol.

    Anticonvulsants are also the key components of a good treatment program. Treatment with these drugs should be carried out properly, the dose is selected gradually and slowly since at first, there may be some general weakness and drowsiness, which later disappear with correct dose titration.

  • What triggers essential tremor?

     

    With such a nervous system disorder as essential tremor, a patient may experience uncontrolled shaking in different body parts, especially in the hands. Such trembling can get worse during emotional strain and uneasiness, and if it is usually not so dangerous and doesn’t have some complications, it can be really frustrating, lowering the life’s quality.
    Determining the key triggers and their elimination can help to reduce shakiness and restore well-being. Thus, ET can be provoked by other disorders, for example, overactive thyroid. Rhythmic trembling can be the consequence of a stroke. The condition can be aggravated by an array of other factors, such as consumption of alcohol, low blood sugar, or taking some medicines.