Fact: Hand tremors are fairly common in middle aged and older people and, while they may cause alarm when they first appear, are seldom a sign of disease. Tremors are of various types; only some are related to neurological disease. They result in involuntary movement of parts of the body, most frequently the hands. Some tremors, including those associated with Parkinson’s disease, occur mainly at-rest. Others, known as “intention” tremors, occur when you move. If sustained tremors begin, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis, but be assured that in neither most cases they are neither a symptom of a serious disease nor an indication that one will develop later.

‘The up and down hand trembling that won’t stop is called “‘essential tremor,” meaning (as in “essential hypertension”) that the cause is unknown. The shaking (usually regular but slight) is caused by involuntary muscle contractions. In most people it affects both hands, is mild or absent at rest, and intensifies during activity and at times of physical or emotional stress. Attempts to use will power to control the shaking seem to make it worse. Oddly, it stops during sleep. Essential tremor often runs in families; indeed, it appears to be associated with families that have unusual longevity.

Essential tremor can’t be stopped, but your doctor may prescribe medication. An alcoholic drink seems to help some people, but the effect is short lived, and there may be a rebound effect. Alcohol is thus not a wise remedy.

Article extracted from this publication >> October 14, 1988