WARNING: The Embarrassing Bodies website contains images of an explicit medical nature and nudity in a medical context.

Conditions

Benign Essential Tremor

Benign Essential Tremor

Benign essential tremor sends your hands to jelly. Tremor quite simply causes your hands to shake – considerably and constantly, thus shattering any aspirations of a career in brain surgery. Whilst it might not sound that serious if the condition deteriorates those afflicted may find it increasingly problematic to carry out the simplest of tasks such as writing, using cutlery, and – let’s not shy away from it – wiping their bum. Benign Essential Tremor has a habit of flaring up and becoming worse when a person is stressed, tired, angry, anxious, hot or cold. A high level of adrenaline in the body can also heighten the shaking as can caffeine and some prescribed medicines. It isn’t just the hands that can be affected; infrequently the voice, face and upper body have known to suffer too though there is some release as tremor usually fades when resting or moving. If the tremor is so bad that it’s affecting your day-to-day life then there are a few things that can ease the symptoms. Beta blockers, anti-convulsants or even a deep brain simulator have all proven affective in a high percentage of cases and (whilst it should in no way be relied upon) one or two units of alcohol have been shown to temporarily relieve the tremor completely, which can be particularly helpful before you give that important speech, or go out on that big date.

Comments and Questions

You can share your experiences and thoughts with other Embarrassing Bodies site-users below. Comments & Questions are reviewed by moderators, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

Hi, I am Antionette. I have had my head shaking, so much that other people would notice it. I occasionally have severe headaches with tremors in my left arm and hand. This has been for a few years now and seemed to be getting worse especially when I stressed. Any suggestions.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Im cathy, I have had the same thing but on my right side for over 4.5 years. I have severe headaches also and arm/shoulder pain, can't sleep. When they get so bad, I lay down, if i'm sitting watching tv, I put a pillow behind my neck any time I can. I also sit with my head on my hand if I'm out eating. I pivit my arm on any table or dresser to put on makeup and to eat. When I write, I use my other hands thumb and put it agains the tremor hand and it helps. I've had PT, OT and see a Neurologist,, just trying different meds. You may need an antidepressant. I wear my soft collar when driving, or riding in a car because the tremors get worse with bumps..or I will use my headrest and push my head against it. I try to sit up streight all the time. Massages do help with the spasms, and to relax the muscles(even for a little while). Hope some of this helps anyone.

Hi has anyone had a tremor in their jaw making their teeth chatter? I have started with this recently. Am having blood tests to check my thyroid, but I am really concerned about the tremor. Also hands and sometimes arms have slight tremor. Many thanks.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

My name is Zak and I have had tremor like symptoms my whole life. Mine are relatively acute. I nearly gave up on my dream to be a surgeon. But things like going to the eye doctor and having to rest my chin on the machine and still shaking really upset me. My girlfriend has a little trouble cutting my hair at times. I'll never forget one of my friends told me he could tell I shook. He could see it in my head. This was already a year or so after knowing him and it just came up one day. My point is that we may have a few things that are challenging or embarrassing, but people will accept you for you if you are a good person. If I would've worried about people knowing I shook my whole life I would never have gotten outside to experience life.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi I'm James and I'm 16 years old. I was just recently diagnosed with ET. As of right now it is only mild. However it gets really bad when I have performance anxiety or after exercise. It is awful when I have to speak in public. My head, hands and voice shake. I was just wondering if anyone with a case similar to mine that has now grown older could tell me how badly it progresses over time. I'm very worried that this will shatter all of my future aspirations. Thanks





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

James-My name is Mike, I'm 47 yrs old, and was diagnosed at about the same age as you. First off let me start by saying that you can do anything you put your mind to. You may have to modify how you do it, or you may have to channel your interests in a different direction, but don't let worry and fear about the future hold you back or keep you from trying. I have depended heavily on my faith to help with keeping an optimistic outlook on life, which is very important-as worry, fear, and anxiety only amplify the problems associated with ET. I don't know what your beliefs are, but allow me to share a verse with you that has helped me when I get anxious or worried-you can look it up if you like...Matthew 6:25-34 (especially verse 33) In addition, I've found that my condition is never as noticeable or extreme to other people as I think it is. My paranoia about people watching me write checks in the check out line, get food off the buffet, drink coffee or tea, etc is almost always unfounded-who cares what other people think anyway! We wouldn't worry so much about what other people thought about us, if we only knew how little time other people actually spend thinking about us! My advice is to work on keeping a positive outlook on life, and look for other people to help - that always seems to take my focus off of myself and make everything more easy to deal with. Work with your neurologist, find one you like-get second opinions, and do your own research (more for your own peace of mind). Also finding a forum with other folks with ET will give you a better perspective - there will always be someone out there worse off than you, and maybe you can encourage them, and will realize that maybe you don't have it that bad after all. God put us all here for a reason, it's our job to figure out what doors are open to us with the gifts, talents and limitations that we have, and walk through them. It's not our job to try and kick down the ones that are shut and force our way in-those are for someone else. (hope that makes sense...lol) Good luck - stay positive!

Hia my name us Jacqueline and I have BET I was tested for Parkinsons with a scan which was normal , so I thought I would see tge neurologist again to discuss my options but no, just see my GP. Like you all say when I am stressed it's worse, didn't know about the caffeine so thanks fir that . My worst is when I am eating and drinking, bless him my 3yr old grandson who I look after told me I drink wrong, showed me how my jaw moves when I stoped feeling sorry for myself I told him I was turning into a duck QUACK QUACK! But going on holiday with all our family and I am a bit embarrassed to sit with them when eating, any ideas folks!!





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi I'm Shay, and I'm 15 years old. For the last few months, I've noticed a slight tremble in my hands. At first it didn't worry me and I blamed it on too much caffine, but after talking with my aunt who has tremors, we found a lot of similarities in our cases linked to physical activity and temperature. I recently talked to my pediatrician about my shaky hands, and she confirned I have benign tremors. I'm really scared about the future right now because I've seen how relitives that have them are debilitated and embarassed by it. I've already been made fun of because I couldn't lift a cup of water to my mouth without spilling it or held a paper still to read in class. Can someone give me advice on how to explain the tremors to other kids and accepting my condition? It's comforting to know people have gone through what I'm currently dealing with.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi, Does anyone have Orthostatic Tremor? Legs turn to jelly after standing still for as little as a minute! Always have to know that there is a chair nearby. I can walk 5 miles but just can't stand up. Awful when you're standing at a party or in church for a wedding or a funeral. It's been properly diagnosed by a neurologist. No treatment available.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi Lucy ..I checked orthostatic tremor on Google and there is medication which seems to work for people with this condition..I'm shocked that you can get another type of benign essential tremor..it's awful that you suffer this condition Lucy.as iv been put on propranolo an it seems to be helping a bit .good luck xx

@Lucy. I have Primary Orthostatic Tremor and want to tell you about the POT website started by a former nurse, Gloria, who has it. It's on the register of Rare Diseases and in my experience, most doctors have never heard about it . I'm in my 80s and healthy in evry other way, still as active as possible when it's impossible to stand. I've been to every kind of doctor, chiropracter, acupuncturist, neurologist, exercise therapist I could find that didn't think it was all in my head. It started slowly, in my 60s and progressively worsened. I've tried Gabapentin, Neurontin, Prolotherapy, Bowen therapy, and more I can't recall. Prolo helped but was $200 a shot, not covered by insurance and when I stopped, so did the benefits. I saw a neurologist in Germany who mistakenly told me I had Parkinson's, an exercise therapist in Switzerland who charged $250 Euros a session and who did help as long as I could keep it up. I became a vegetarian partly in the hopes it would help, tried various natural cures, don't drink and have only in the past three months started to take blood pressure meds. I thought at first it was heavy metal poisoning and had my mercury fillings replaced by a biogical dentist, etc., etc. I note all this to emphasize that I have tried actively to keep it at bay. Imstead, I have had to adjust. I've kept out of a wheelchair but must use the electric carts at the grocery store and have a walker for occasional, short shopping trips. A cane doesn't help. It's a curse of a disease. Others don't realize how much we do standing up: checking out at a store, standing in line, mingling at a party, stopping to let the dog do his business during a walk, cooking, showering -- and POT isn't well known enough to foster awareness, even among researchers. At this stage, the best thing for me is to keep moderately active, watch what I eat, especially sugar intake, and try to keep aggravation at a minimum. And of course to read whatever I can about POT. If you have anything you can add, I'd love to hear about it and I wish you the best.

WOW. I am so very glad I stumbled on this site. You can read all the medical mumbo jumbo, and there is a place for that, but there is nothing like the words from individuals just like yourself. Fighting the same war with different battles and finding out how united we really are. The underlying feelings, emotions, and perceptions are much the same. There is a very real feeling of comradery. It seems that whether you were a child or middle age when your tremors began it is when they start to interfere with daily life that the panic begins. But as some have said in a way is that you just keep going on and being the best you you always were and still are. The glory of Essential Tremor is that it does not affect your mind unless you let it. The rest is all perception. Don't ever hide away, we have done nothing to hide for. Hell, I spilled food down the front of my blouse long before I had ET. At least now I have a good excuse. Come on let's go strike a match and set the world on fire.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi Susanne...welcome to this site ..I also felt happy to have found it..I'd like to have more of a banter with you all on here ,but people find it hard to communicate with this debilitating condition. I know it takes ages to type in a few sentences .I too used to spill down my blouse .but touch wood since taking propranolo I'm much better I still shake all over but not as much as I did xx

Hi, I'm Maddy. I'm 20. I have always had a slight tremor in my hands. When my sugar levels/blood pressure is low, I'm angry, stressed or cold, or I have eaten/drunk something too hot, I shake a lot. Sometimes it's so bad I find it hard to stand up without supporting myself, feel dizzy and my hands turn to jelly and I can't hold anything still. It's particularly bad when I'm hungry or haven't eaten much all day and also when I've had too much coffee and have an energy low. Do you think I have Benign Essential Tremor?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi, I'm Mindy and 45 and have an essential tremor of my head, but sometimes it affects my speech (sort of like a stutter.) It has progressively gotten worse in the past six years and is becoming more noticeable, especially if I am upset or stressed or really tired. I had a dentist actually tell me (and not very nicely) to keep my head still, even after I told her I couldn't control it. I haven't experienced severe tremors in my hands yet, and hope I don't, but it does concern me that my head tremor is getting worse. I'm not sure I'm ready to be on medication for this though. Just not sure what to do. Is there anyone else out there with just a head tremor or a head tremor with intermittent stuttering?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Im 33and the tremors only affect my head and sometimes my hands mostly head.

Hi Your symptoms sound exactly like mine, I too have head tremors, but mine are every night while im in bed relaxing, my head shakes side to side, but not during the day when im moving around, but if I get really nervous or stressed then my head does shake. I have told my Dr and all that they can say it may be a tick, and cant do much to treat it. I have been looking for answers for years and nothing has come up as yet, I just wish there was some kind of treatment for it, as it does affect my normal life, and its very embarrasing. If any one reading this can shed any sorty of light it would be greatly appreciated.

Hi, Mindy my name is Julie and 36 yrs old. I have had essential tremors since I was a little girl but I wasn't alone... My 1st cousin has them too. Our sisters didn't get them but they are somewhere in our genes. They really weren't that noticeable until our late 20's but it started in our hands and now we both have it pretty bad in our head, voice and tongue... yes it can affect your tongue. I can't write very well and worse in front of people because I try to keep my hands still so they won't notice but of course it makes them worse. I have a hard time with my daily task like putting on makeup, writing, carrying a cup, and I drop everything. People do ask me all the time what's wrong with me why do I shake so bad, I'm just honest and tell them I have tremors which are a progressive disease but not life threatening. My neurologist started me on a dose of Primidone, which is an old seizure medicine thats really not even used anymore for seizures but they do use it for ET. I'm on a small dosage for now only when I go to bed so I can get through the side effects, drowsiness is a big one. The neurologist said the side effects will subside. In a couple of weeks we will up the dosage to 3 pills a day which is the normal dosage. ET is not easy to live with it is embarrassing sometimes but we have to keep living. I've managed it up until the last couple years by myself but it only gets worse with time as it is progressive. You might want to go to a neurologist if you haven't already and defiantly not be scared to be on medication it helps a lot. I hope this helps you!

Juice greens and/ or do a juice feast. It help me more tan anything. Also try turmeric. Raw vegan diet is also the best as a permanent life style or just incorporate more of it in your life, if you are not willing to do 100%. Trust me it will change your life in more ways than one. Lily





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.



Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

It looks like no one else has asked this question, so please fill in the rest of your details below.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.



Please don't swear or be rude in your questions, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting questions. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines


Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.


If you want to embed our videos in your site, read our embedding T&Cs here


More Information

  1. In Detail: Sweaty Hands

    In Videos - An in detail look at the operation to cure a case of hiperhidrosis…

  2. Doctor Responses: Blushing

    In Videos - Dr Dawn Harper casts her expert eye over your most common queries.

  3. Episode 2 - London

    In Episodes - This week's Embarrassing Bodies takes on the capital as the mobile…

  4. Doctor Responses: Alopecia and Hair Loss

    In Videos - Your most common questions about alopecia, answered by the EB doctors.

  5. Quick Health Advice: Stress Incontinence

    In Videos - Dr Harper discusses stress incontinence and what can be done to sto…

  6. Consultation: Urinary Incontinence

    In Videos - Dr Jessen meets a woman whose problem bladder is ruling her life, b…


Be On Embarrassing Bodies

The clinic is opening again for a new series.
Apply for Embarrassing Bodies >