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HealthInfo Canterbury

Essential tremor

TremorEssential tremor (also called benign tremor) is an uncontrollable shaking of part of the body. For most people with essential tremor, it's their hands that shake. This can make it difficult to perform tasks like writing.

Essential tremor affects around four in 100 adults and tends to get worse with age. It can also run in families. There's no cure for essential tremor. But avoiding things like cigarettes, caffeine and stress can help.

There are some other ways to help your control your tremor. Try using heavier cups and utensils, or a straw for drinking. Use a computer instead of writing. Use wrist weights, but only for tasks such as eating, writing, or at the computer. These are available from most fitness shops. Try yoga or relaxation exercises.

The uncontrollable shaking of essential tremor can cause you to lose weight without intending to. You should watch your weight and see your GP if you think you're losing weight.

If you have a new tremor, you should see your GP. Your GP will do an assessment to determine if the cause of the tremor is benign, or if there is another condition which has caused the tremor to start. If simple measures you have tried at home aren't helping the tremor, your GP may offer some medication, which can help.

If your tremor is becoming very bad it may make driving difficult. You should talk to your GP about this if you or others are concerned about your ability to drive safely.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2019.

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Disability aids

Page reference: 52927

Review key: HIEST-19705