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  • Essential Tremor, or ET for short, is a progressive movement disorder.

  • ET causes shaking of the hands, head, and/or voice.

  • ET can many ordinary tasks difficult, such as drinking coffee, taking photos with your mobile device, and buttoning a shirt.

  • ET can interfere with a golfer's efforts to steady a range finder, putt, and place a ball on the tee.

  • About 10 million people in the United States have ET, including ≈ 1 in 5 of those age 65 and older.

  • Although the average age of onset for essential tremor is 40, ET may first appear at any age between childhood and old age.

  • According to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Global Health, it is estimated that 0.04% of people under the age of 20 have ET ( 

  • ET is thought to be genetic, but people without any family history of tremor can develop ET.

  • A key feature of essential tremor is a tremor in both hands and arms, which is present during action and when standing still.

  • Tremor frequency (how “fast” the tremor shakes) may decrease as the person ages, but the severity may increase.

  • Having patients draw an Archimedes spiral helps physicians diagnose ET and determine its severity.

  • Triggers and circumstances that increase severity of tremors include heightened emotion, stress, fever, physical exhaustion, and low blood sugar.

  • Although not recommended as a treatment method, small amounts of alcohol have been known to decrease essential tremor, but the mechanism behind this is unknown.

  • Current treatment options include medications (beta blocking drugs, anti-seizure medications, tranquilizers), focused ultrasound, surgery (deep brain stimulation, thalamotomy), and lifestyle changes (therapy, elimination of triggers).

  • Some evidence suggests that people diagnosed with ET after the age of 65 are more likely to develop other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's diseases.

  • More research is needed in all areas surrounding ET, especially to identify more effective and better tolerated medications and alternative treatments for tremor.

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