What is Essential Tremor? Essential Tremor or ET is the uncontrollable shaking in different parts of the body due to a nerve disorder. The part of the body that is mostly affected by ET includes the arms, hands, head, larynx, tongue, and chin. In extreme cases, the lower part of the body is also affected.
Essential tremor can occur at any age. People with ET usually experience the first episodes of tremors during puberty. But the uncontrollable shaking of the body is mostly felt and experienced between ages 40 and 50. In North America alone, more than 10 million people suffer from essential tremor.
Even though it is not a life threatening condition, a person who suffers from essential tremor can be affected if the uncontrollable shaking prevents that person from doing his daily routine or from caring for himself. But for most people who are diagnosed with essential tremor, they can still function and live a normal life. Essential tremor will only be considered as a disability if the tremors become severe and the person with ET can no longer care for himself.
Causes of Essential Tremor
Even with the advancement of medical technology, the true cause of essential tremor is not yet fully understood. What the experts on ET only know for now is that the shaking that are being experienced by people with essential tremor are caused by the abnormal electric brain activity in the thalamus region.
Most people who have essential tremor also acquire the condition through genetics. If one or both of your parents have ET, you will have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the said condition. While it is true that ET is more common to the elderly and the symptoms usually manifest with age, essential tremor is not in any way related to the natural aging process of a person.
Symptoms of Essential Tremor
- Balancing problems
- Uncontrollable nodding of head
- Shaking voice
- Tremors that gets worse with purposeful movement
- Tremors that lessen with rest
- Tremors that worsen during periods of emotional stress
- Uncontrollable shaking that occurs for brief periods of time
Essential tremor should not be taken lightly. If a person has been diagnosed to have this condition, he should get treatment immediately. Other movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease have been linked to essential tremor.
How to Diagnose Essential Tremor
Essential tremor cannot be diagnosed by blood, urine, and other regular test procedures like other medical conditions. The doctor usually base his diagnosis based on the symptoms and the complete neurological exam of the patient.
Essential tremor does not need treatment if the episodes of shaking are only mild and controllable. But if the essential tremor is severe and it affects the person’s ability to function normally, the doctor may prescribe some medications or even surgery.
Prevention and Cure
Sadly, there is no cure to essential tremor. Only relief from its symptoms through medications is the only thing available at the moment. Prevention is also impossible because the exact cause of essential tremor is still unknown. But if your family has a history of essential tremor, then you should expect that there is a 50% chance that you too may acquire the condition.
If you think you are experiencing the symptoms of essential tremor, it is best to go and visit your doctor and have yourself properly checked.
March has been proclaimed National Essential Tremor Awareness Month. Awareness of this disease is crucial as it affects millions of Americans but because of the nature of the condition, it is often mistakenly diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease.