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Essential Tremor

Most Common Tremor in Adults
Number-one-foam-finger on adult

Essential tremor is the most common cause of tremor in adults, and has a worldwide prevalence of 1% with a prevalence of 5% in adults over age 60. 

Often Familial 
Family portrait

Essential tremor often runs in families, and for this reason is sometimes also referred to as "familial tremor". A family history is present in 30 to 70% of patients diagnosed with essential tremor. 

Typically Affects Bilateral Upper Extremities
Person on top of bi-ladders

Essential tremor most commonly is seen affecting both arms. This is in contrast to the tremor seen in Parkinson's Disease, in which onset typically begins unilaterally. It has also commonly been known to affect the head. 

More Apparent When Holding Fixed Posture
Woman in yoga-pose with tremor-zig-zags

Essential tremor is characteristically amplified with fixed postures, especially those in which a body part is being held against gravity, such as holding one's arms outstretched. 

More Apparent With Goal-Directed Movements Such as Using Eating Utensils
Holding eating utensils

The symptoms of essential tremor also become more apparent with goal-directed movements such as using eating utensils. 

Less Apparent With Relaxation and Alcohol
Lady relaxing on couch with alcohol

The tremor seen in essential tremor is characteristically relieved with small amounts of alcohol. This is a common feature that patients may report noticing when they present complaining of tremor. Importantly the same is not true for other causes of tremor. 

Beta Blockers
Beta-fish with Blocks

Patients whose symptoms are severe enough to cause difficulty in daily activities may be prescribed beta blockers, which have been shown to relieve symptoms of essential tremor. 

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