Other Names for this Disease
- Benign essential tremor
- Familial essential tremor
- Hereditary essential tremor
- Presenile tremor syndrome
- Tremor, hereditary essential, 1
Your QuestionI have a relative who has essential tremor. How might this condition affect the activities of daily living? Are there ways to manage the symptoms?
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Questions on this page
Essential tremor is a disorder of the nervous system that causes involuntary, rhythmic shaking (tremor), especially in the hands. It involves tremor without any other signs or symptoms, and is distinguished from tremor that results from other disorders or known causes, such as tremors seen with Parkinson disease or head trauma. Essential tremor (sometimes called benign essential tremor) is the most common of the more than 20 types of tremor. The causes of essential tremor are unknown. Several genes as well as environmental factors likely play a role in a person's risk of developing this complex condition. In mild cases, treatment may not be necessary. In cases where symptoms interfere with daily living, medications may help to relieve symptoms.
If severe, essential tremor may interfere with fine motor skills used to do simple tasks like holding eating utensils, drinking a glass of water, tying shoelaces, writing, sewing, shaving, or applying makeup. Sometimes the tremors affect the voicebox, which occasionally leads to speech problems.
- Propranolol, a drug that blocks the action of stimulating substances called neurotransmitters, particularly those related to adrenaline
- Primidone, an antiseizure drug that also control the function of some neurotransmitters
These drugs can have significant side effects.
Eliminating tremor "triggers" such as caffeine and other stimulants from the diet is often recommended. Physical therapy may help to reduce tremor and improve coordination and muscle control for some patients.
More details about the management of essential tremor can be accessed through the following web links:
- Essential tremor. Genetics Home Reference (GHR). June 2013; http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/essential-tremor. Accessed 9/12/2014.
- NINDS Essential Tremor Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). April 25, 2013; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/essential_tremor/essential_tremor.htm. Accessed 9/12/2014.
- Essential tremor. MedlinePlus. March 31, 2011; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000762.htm. Accessed 9/12/2014.
- Essential tremor. MayoClinic.com. 2013; http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/essential-tremor/DS00367/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all. Accessed 5/5/2013.