Medical Q&As

Essential tremor - what is it?

Have you any information about the condition of benign essential tremor. Have you any information about specialists in Ireland who may deal with this condition or any support groups?

Benign essential tremor is a common neurological disorder. The term essential means that the cause is unknown and as many sufferers will point out its effects are far from benign. The tremor usually affects the hands, but it may also affect the head and neck, the trunk and, rarely, the legs and feet. It can also affect sound production resulting in a shaky quivering voice. Some people experience tremor only in certain positions, which is called postural tremor. Tremor that worsens while writing or eating is called kinetic tremor. Most people with essential tremor have both postural and kinetic tremor. Severity of the tremors can vary greatly from hour to hour and day to day. It is not a result of another neurological condition nor is it due to the side effects of medication. The condition usually arises after the age of 40 but can arise as early as 10 years of age. Men and women are affected equally and in the majority of cases there is a strong family history of the condition. Current research is attempting to identify the specific gene or genes that cause essential tremor. I am not aware of the existence of a support group for the condition in Ireland but you might find the following site to be a useful source of information: http://www.essentialtremor.org/