Nearly 10 million people struggle with essential tremors. Essential tremors are a nervous disorder that causes involuntary shaking. Essential tremors may affect any part of the body. It is often seen in the hands more than anywhere else. Essential tremors are not a serious problem, but it can affect your daily life. Over time, essential tremors worsen. Controlling the part of the body experiencing the tremor is nearly impossible. The way the tremor affects you is completely dependent on the location of the tremor. If the tremor is in your hand, you may not be able to write or eat with that hand. Many people get essential tremors confused with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is characterized by tremors that typically start in the hand, but an essential tremor is an entirely different condition that does not have any life-threatening effects.
Tremors are a common occurrence. It is a nerve problem. Essential tremors are considered to be a neurological disorder. There are many different neurological disorders and they range in severity. Essential tremors are some of the least harmful of the neurological disorders. It can and will affect your daily life, especially if it worsens. If an essential tremor is only in your hand, it does not spread up the arm or anything. It affects only that muscle. This is the main difference between essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s progressively gets worse and causes you to be physically disabled and sometimes mentally challenged. This is one way to differentiate from essential tremors and Parkinson’s, but there are others.
Difference between Parkinson’s & Essential Tremors
It is good to have an understanding of the differences between essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease. They have similar symptoms which can make it confusing to decide which disorder you have. An essential tremor typically only affects the hands, voice and head. Parkinson’s affects other parts of the body like the legs and maybe even the chin. Parkinson’s disease also progresses. It may spread to other parts of the body. Tremors occur at different times with each disease. When you have essential tremors, tremors happen when you are trying to do something. When you are resting, tremors are not noticeable. Those with Parkinson’s have what is called resting tremors. When you are at rest, you notice the tremors a lot more. When moving around, the tremor is not typically as bad. The last distinction between the two is overall health. If you have essential tremors, other bodily systems are not affected. Parkinson’s disease affects blood pressure, posture, and movement.
The primary symptom of essential tremors is shaking. You typically only feel the shaking on one side of the body. The hands are primarily affected. When you start moving, the shaking gets worse. Your head may also start moving. The head bobs as if you are saying no. Sometimes the head moves in a yes motion. The shaking may progress but only in the muscle affected. Certain things can make it worse. Stress and tiredness are two. Other things include temperature and caffeine.
Essential tremors are mostly a result of a gene mutation. If your parents have an essential tremor, you are at risk for one too. It is a dominant trait, so all it takes is for one parent to transfer it to you. It is a problem you are born with, but it may not show up until later in life. Sometimes tremors just happen outside of genetic mutations. Certain stressors can bring about essential tremors. Injuries may also lead to tremors. If the thalamus of the brain is damaged, you will have uncontrollable muscle movements.
A neurologist diagnoses essential tremors with a physical examination. The physical examination helps them to determine whether or not it is an essential tremor or Parkinson’s disease. They will have you do a number of different actions. They will also check reflexes and your gait. If you do not react to certain stimulations, or your hands do not swing when you walk, you have Parkinson’s disease. If your hands shake worse while writing rather than when they are still, you probably have essential tremors. If the physical examination is not enough, they may use diagnostic tests.
Treatment for essential tremors includes medication. The medications used are not specifically for essential tremors but other things. Anti-seizure medications and high blood pressure medications are common. Anxiety medication is also commonly used. Botox may be helpful in paralyzing the muscle that is experiencing the tremor. Sometimes physical therapy is the most helpful treatment. If all else fails, surgery is next. A deep brain stimulator is placed in the head to control the tremors.
Essential tremors are not harmful or life-threatening, but they are quite annoying and sometimes gets in the way of your daily activities. If you have essential tremors, you should seek out the help of a neurologist for treatment. Essential tremors can sometimes worsen so getting treatment early on can help the situation. Essential tremors are not something that you have to be embarrassed about and the right medication can help you get them under control.
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