Essential Tremor

What is Essential Tremor?

This is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary shaking of any part of your body. The most commonplace for essential tremors are in the hands.  These tremors happen especially while doing simple tasks and can be aggravated by emotional stress or anxiety. These tremors don’t happen while resting. The cause of these tremors is not completely understood but it is believed to have a family component. The symptoms of essential tremors are usually confused with Parkinson’s disease, but the main difference is what triggers the tremors. In Parkinson’s disease, the tremors occur during rest instead of while performing tasks. 

What are the symptoms of Essential Tremor?

  • Tremors are worse with movement
  • Tremor begin gradually
  • Head tremor is characterized by a “yes-yes” or “no-no” motion of the head
  • Tremors improve with ingestion of alcohol
  • The tremor gets worse with age

How is Essential Tremor diagnosed?

The diagnosis of essential tremor is based on symptoms, medical, and family history. Since there is not a specific test to diagnose this disease, it mainly consists of ruling out other conditions. A neurological examination where you test for tendon reflexes, posture and coordination, muscle strength, and gait is usually performed. Laboratory tests such as thyroid panel, metabolic problems, and drug side effects are tested to rule out other diagnoses. 

How is Essential Tremor treated?

The main treatment for essential tremors is beta-blockers such as propranolol. Anti-seizure medications such as gabapentin or topiramate are used when beta-blockers don’t work. When symptoms are mainly exacerbated by anxiety, medications such as clonazepam are recommended. Also, occupational or physical therapy is recommended to improve muscle strength, coordination, and to help adapt to living with this condition. If the symptoms are extremely severe and they are affecting your life, then deep brain stimulation is performed. This procedure puts a device that transmits electrical pulses to interrupt the signals that are causing the tremors

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What are the differential diagnoses of Essential Tremor?

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Hyperthyroidism 
  • Multiple sclerosis

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