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Health A to Z

Essential tremor

Symptoms of essential tremor

The only symptom of essential tremor is the characteristic shaking. About 9 out of 10 affected people experience a trembling, up-and-down movement of the hands.

Other body parts can also be affected, including the:

  • arms
  • head
  • jaw
  • lips
  • tongue
  • voice box (larynx)
  • legs

Essential tremor can begin at any age from childhood onwards. The later the condition starts, the milder it is likely to be.

The tremor usually affects both sides of the body equally. It happens when you are trying to hold a position or do something with your hands, such as write. The tremor is not usually present in a body part if it's completely at rest.

The following factors can make the tremor more severe:

  • stress 
  • anxiety 
  • anger
  • strenuous activity
  • caffeine (found in tea, coffee and some fizzy drinks)
  • some prescribed medicines

Some people have a mild tremor, although most will find that their tremor gets gradually more severe over the years.

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Content Supplied by NHS Choices

[View original article on NHS Choices website]