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Tremor - self-care

A tremor is a type of shaking in your body. Most tremors are in the hands and arms, but they may affect any body part, even your head or voice.

More about Tremors

For many people with a tremor, the cause is not found. Some types of tremors run in families. A tremor may also be part of a long-term brain or nerve disorder.

Some medicines can cause tremors. Talk with your health care provider about stopping a medicine that may be causing your tremor. Your health care provider may lower your dose or switch you to another medicine. Do NOT change or stop any medicine before you talk with your health care provider.

You may not need treatment for your tremor unless it interferes with your daily life or is embarrassing for you.

Lifestyle Changes Can Help

Most tremors become worse when you are tired.

  • Try not to do too much during the day.
  • Get enough sleep. Ask your health care provider about how you can change your sleep habits if you have problems sleeping.

Stress and anxiety can also make your tremor worse. These things may lower your stress level:

  • Meditation, deep relaxation, or breathing exercises
  • Reducing your caffeine intake

Alcohol abuse can also cause tremors. If it is the cause of your tremors, seek treatment and support. Your health care provider can help you find a treatment program that may help you stop drinking.

Managing Your Tremor Day to Day

Tremors can worsen over time. They may begin to interfere with your ability to do your daily activities. Some tips that may help are:

  • Buy clothes with Velcro fasteners instead of buttons or hooks.
  • Cook or eat with utensils that have larger handles that are easier to grip.
  • Drink from half-filled cups to avoid spilling.
  • Use straws to drink so you do not have to pick up your glass.
  • Wear slip-on shoes and use shoehorns.
  • Wear a heavier bracelet or watch. It may reduce a hand or arm tremor.

Medicines to Treat Tremors

Your health care provider may prescribe medicines to relieve your tremor symptoms. How well any medicine works may depend on your body and the cause of your tremor.

Some of these medicines have side effects. Tell your health care provider if you have these symptoms or any other symptoms you are concerned about:

  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Stuffy nose
  • Slow heart rate (pulse)
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Problems concentrating
  • Walking or balance problems
  • Nausea

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if:

  • Your tremor is severe and it interferes with your life.
  • Your tremor occurs with other symptoms, such as headache, weakness, abnormal tongue motion, muscle tightening, or other movements that you cannot control.
  • You are having side effects from your medicine.

Alternate Names

Shaking

References

Deuschl G, Raethjen J, Hellriegel H, Elble R. Treatment of patients with essential tremor. Lancet Neurol. 2011 Feb;10(2):148-61.

Update Date: 6/27/2012

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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