A nerve disorder, Essential tremor (ET) is not a life-threatening disease but can affect different body parts. This neurological condition is often characterized by uncontrollable shaking in different body parts including head, tongue, hands, chin, arms and larynx. A majority of people are able to live normal lives with this condition. However, it is only when these tremors become extreme that they can cause disability.
Who are affected by essential tremors?
One of the most common movement disorder, it is estimated that more than 10 million people in the USA have got affected by this disease. This neurological disease can affect a person falling in any age bracket; however, it most commonly strikes a person in his middle age or during adolescence.
What causes essential tremor?
Essential tremor is known to be a hereditary disease, meaning it runs in families. Studies have shown that 6 out of every 10 people with essential tremor have a family member suffering from the same problem. Genes that are passed on from our parents determine how we will look like, even what diseases we will get. But it is still not clearly understood how the genetic changes in parents can lead to essential tremor.
Common symptoms attached to this disorder
The primary and the only symptom that defines essential tremor is a tremor. However, other secondary symptoms associated with this disorder include:
- Shaking voice.
- Uncontrollable shaking for a brief period of time.
- Nodding head.
- Balance problem.
- Tremors that worsen with purposeful movements.
- Tremors during period of emotional stress.
You may be able to control the tremors and they may become less obvious if you are working on the affected body part. The uncontrolled shaking associated with essential tremor is not unique to this disorder. There are many different diseases which have similar symptoms to essential tremor.
Other different diseases or factors that can also cause tremors include:
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Brain tumors.
- Fatigue after exercise.
- Drug withdrawal symptoms.
- Metabolic abnormalities.
- Extreme emotional distress.
How to diagnose essential tremor?
Meet a specialist who will help you diagnose essential tremor based on specific symptoms and neurological exam. However, there is no specific test such as urine or blood test to diagnose the disease.
Treatment of essential tremor
No treatment is also an option if you are dealing with mild tremors. However, if you are suffering from extreme essential tremor that interferes with your ability to function, there are treatments that help you improve symptoms. Treatments include:
Oral drugs can help reduce the severity of ET. Various drug options include Mysoline, Propranolol, Inderal, Neurontin, the tranquilizers Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan, and Valium. Alternatively, Botox is also seen as a treatment option. Botox is best when used for the treatment of head and vocal tremors. Doctors often start with a low dose and continue up till the tremors are erased completely.
One of the best surgical treatments for patients suffering from essential tremor is deep brain stimulation (DBS). This procedure involves surgical implantation of electrical leads into the thalamus, which is an area of the brain that coordinates muscle control which is thought to be the affected area in essential tremor.
Can ET be prevented?
As no exact cause of essential tremor is known, thus there is no way to prevent it. However, as researches have shown a genetic link associated with essential tremor, therefore, doctors and researchers have been coming up with effective treatments and ways to prevent it.
There are various treatments that provide relief from the symptoms of essential tremor. Your doctor will recommend you an individual treatment to help you reduce the tremors.