Benign Essential Tremor Info

Benign Essential Tremor - The Essential Facts

Benign Essential Tremor

Do you have uncontrollable shaking in any part of your body? e.g. hands, head, tongue, jaw, legs. Did you know that it could be due to Benign Essential Tremor and in most cases can be easily treated by taking medication throughout your lifetime?

Read on to decide if your symptoms are due to Essential Tremor

Do You Have Any Or All Of The Following

  1. Uncontrollable Head Nodding or Shaking                                                             
  2. Head Shakes or Nods When Leaning Forward
  3. Head Shakes From Side To Side Or Up And Down
  4. Tremor In Hands When Lifting Things
  5. Tremor Worse In Morning
  6. Tremor In Thumb
  7. Tremor In Jaw
  8. Tremor In Tongue
  9. Tremor Is Helped With Alcohol
  10. Tremor Worsened Around Age 40 - 45

Essential Tremor or Benign Essential Tremor is a slowly progressive, distressing medical condition which causes uncontrollable shaking or trembling in the affected part of the body.

In my case my head and hands are most severely affected with uncontrollable shaking, although it can occur in any part of the body including feet, jaw, trunk, mouth and tongue.

Essential Tremor is the most common of all movement disorders and never leads on to any other, more serious illness which may have life threatening complications. If you are diagnosed with Benign Essential Tremor it will always be just that. Essential Tremor is often compared to Parkinson's Disease but the conditions have marked differences. Essential Tremor causes uncontrollable shaking when the affected part is in use, whereas with Parkinson's Disease the tremor will occur when the hands are at rest, also Parkinson's sufferers usually are only affected in the hands, whereas with E.T any part of the body can be affected.

Many people experience a tremor at some point, whether it be through too much caffeine, being too tired, stress or anxiety, but Benign Essential Tremor differs in that the person shakes to such an extent that it is very noticible and of course, the embarrassment caused only serves to make the tremor worse.  Activities which most people take for granted, such as lifting a cup, applying cosmetics, and writing make the shaking worse as it is considered to be a postural tremor and rarely happens when the body is at rest or during normal movement. For instance, with a hand tremor, outstretching the hand to lift something will make the hand shake uncontrollably, while with a head tremor, leaning the head forward would make the head shake.

A head tremor follows one of two movements, which are described as no- no and yes-yes movements, as the head will continually either nod as in a yes movement or shake from side to side as in a no movement. My own head tremor follows the yes yes pattern and was very noticible to other people prior to my taking medication. I learned that if I stop what I am doing, stand up straight and stretch the muscles in my neck the tremor will stop for a short while.

Although, all my life, I have always had extremely shaky hands, which people assumed was caused by nerves, the head tremor only started when I reached 45 which is the most common age for the onset of Benign Essential Tremor.

Extremes of temperature and stressful situations tend to make the shaking worse and I find that on waking in the morning, I usually have one severe tremor that passes through my whole body and lasts for just a few seconds before subsiding. Men and women are affected equally by this distressing and embarrassing medical condition with estimates of around 4 to 40 per thousand of the population affected.

Essential Tremor or Familial Tremor can run in families, hence the term Familial Tremor, as it is thought to be caused by a defective gene. Over half of all cases are known to be caused by a genetic mutation, although many people are never diagnosed as this is viewed by the sufferer as merely a 'family trait' they have to live with. In cases of the tremor being hereditary it is known as familial tremor.

Currently the medical profession can offer no cure for Benign Essential Tremor although, in some cases, the uncontrollable shaking can be made less severe with the use of Beta Blockers or Anticonvulsants. Thankfully my Essential Tremor did respond to medication, namely, Propranolol, a Beta Blocker normally used to treat heart conditions, high blood pressure and palpitations amongst other things. Some people with severe tremors which do not respond to treatment may have to consider surgery to control the shaking. 

Sufferers of E.T can happily have a drink on doctor's orders as alcohol acts as an inhibitor and the tremors and shaking are either vastly reduced or stop altogether after a glass or two.

Tremor severity does increase over the years but tremor frequency will decrease with the onset of old age.

Anyone experiencing repeated tremors and uncontrollable shaking are advised to consult a medical practitioner as the tremor could be a symptom of many other illnesses, namely, Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis, Thyroid problems, some prescribed drugs or the effects of drug or alcohol misuse

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