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5 Ways to Treat Essential Tremor.

Do you or a loved one suffer from involuntary shaking? It may be what’s known as essential tremor. Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes rhythmic, uncontrollable shaking. 

Essential tremor typically begins in one or both hands, causing slow shaking in what some call a “yes, yes” or “no, no” motion. It progresses over time, and can eventually affect your hands, head, and voice. It most commonly affects those 40 and over, but can affect people of any age.

Essential tremor can appear quite similar to Parkinson’s disease, but the two are not the same. Let’s look at essential tremor vs Parkinson’s disease
  • Shaking from essential tremor usually worsens when your hands are in action, whereas a symptom of Parkinson’s disease can be shaking when your hands are at rest. 
  • Essential tremor can lead to an unsteady gait, whereas Parkinson’s leads to a hunched posture, slower movement, and unsteady gait.
Essential tremor is not fatal but can affect the quality of life negatively. Fortunately, there are ways to treat essential tremor that may reduce its impact on your life.

Lee Soon Jae in Stand By Me (2018).

Lifestyle Changes for Essential Tremor
The first thing to do when diagnosed with essential tremor is to understand which factors contribute to your essential tremor. For some, essential tremor can be easily managed with a few lifestyle changes. Try the following to reduce the impact of your essential tremor.

1. Get proper sleep. Some people find that fatigue worsens their essential tremor.

2. Avoid substances that are known to affect essential tremor, such as caffeine and other stimulants.

3. Talk to your doctor about the medications that you currently take. Certain antidepressants, antiepileptics, and inhalers may worsen essential tremor.

4. Stress can be a exacerbating factor, so try and keep it to a minimum. Meditation and breathing techniques can be extremely effective in keeping stress levels down.

5. As with any condition that affects the use of your body, regular occupational therapy is a great tool to learn to adapt to essential tremor. An occupational therapist can help you adapt to the new requirements of your body.

Kim Hae Sook and Bae Suzy in Start-up (2020).

Adaptive Devices for Essential Tremor
Many with essential tremor find that simply swapping out a few regular items for adaptive items can make a significant impact on their life. Explore whether some of the following tools can work for you.

1. Look for utensils with larger handles, which will allow an easier grip.

2. Dishes with high sides can prevent spills from shaking.

3. Wrist weights can help steady your hands.

4. Opt for clothing that doesn’t have buttons. You can find plenty of adaptive clothing online for easier dressing.

Choi Bool Am in Smile You (2009).

Pharmaceutical Medications for Essential Tremor
There are many pharmaceutical medications on the market that have been known to help with essential tremor. When exploring medications, doctors typically look for a medication that reduces your essential tremor by about 50%. Talk to your doctor about the following options.

1. Beta-blockers can be extremely effective in controlling essential tremor. These are medications designed to reduce the effects of epinephrine, the hormone more commonly known as adrenaline. Though designed to reduce high blood pressure, beta-blockers can also calm your essential tremor.

2. Anti-seizure medications can also help with essential tremor. They may cause a few side effects, like drowsiness or nausea, while your body adjusts, but these should eventually go away.

3. Anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines can be helpful to those whose essential tremors worsen with anxiety or stress. Take these medications with care, as they may become addictive.

4. Botox injections can be particularly effective in those with hand tremors who don’t wish to take a daily medication. An injection can last for up to 3 months. Do note that botox in the hands may weaken the fingers and wrists, whereas botox in the throat may cause a raspy voice or difficulty swallowing.

Treating essential tremor can feel intimidating at first, but with these tips you can begin your path to feeling better in no time

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