LIFESTYLE & COMMUNITY

Why Do Your Hands Tremble? 9 Possible Causes, And When To See A Doctor If You Have This Symptom

April 12, 2018 16:56

Shaky hands (medically known as hand tremor) can be caused by many things. For example, your hands may shake when you are stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed with other intense emotion. Your hands may also be a little unsteady when you've had more cups of coffee than you should have had. But in some cases, shaking hands may be a sign of a serious trouble. Many people with Parkinson's disease report hand tremor as one of the first symptoms they noticed. Another, more probable and less severe cause of shaking hands is a condition called essential tremor, which is often seen in older people.

Below, we list a few possible causes of shaky hands and when to see a doctor if you have this symptom.

READ ALSO: Jamie-Lynn Sigler And Other Celebrities Diagnosed With Multiple Sclerosis Give Voice To MS Community

9 possible causes of shaky hands

Shaky hands may be caused by one of the following:

1. Caffeine overdose

Caffeine can be good for you in small amounts, but it wreaks havoc on your body if consume too much of it. If you OD on caffeine, you'll notice symptoms such as shaky hands, restlessness, elevated heart rate, and excessive sweating. If these symptoms are severe, they warrant a trip to the ER. Shaky hands and other symptoms will pass once excess caffeine is out of your system.

2. Anxiety

You may notice that your hands are shaking when you are anxious or nervous. If your hands shake only when you experience anxiety, and if you have no other symptoms, then it likely isn't a cause for concern (unless you feel anxious too often, then you should see your doctor).

3. Use of certain medicines

Hand tremor may appear as a side effect of certain drugs. These include mood stabilizers (e.g. lithium), some anticonvulsants, and bronchodilators used to treat asthma. If you think your medicines are giving you hand tremor, discuss it with the doctor who prescribed the medicines in question.

4. Vitamin B12 deficiency

A serious lack of vitamin B12 in your diet can prevent your nervous system from functioning properly, and that can give you hand tremors. Check whether you are eating enough foods that contain the vitamin. If your deficiency is severe, you may need vitamin B12 shots.

READ ALSO: Warning Signs Of Peripheral Neuropathy And When To Seek Medical Care

5. Essential tremor

Essential tremor is a common cause of shaking hands in older people. You're more likely to develop essential tremor if you have a family history of this condition. If you have essential tremor, your hands tremble when you are using them, but the symptom subsides when you are at rest. The condition may get worse over time. If you suspect you may have essential tremor, talk to your doctor about it.

6. Parkinson's disease

Shaking hands are one of the most easily recognizable symptoms of Parkinson's disease. It's a neurodegenerative disorder that affects approximately 1 million Americans and 10 million people worldwide. It's main symptoms are issues with movement, coordination, and balance. In Parkinson's, the tremor is usually worse at rest. If you think you or your loved one has Parkinson's, don't hesitate to discuss it with your doctor who may then refer you to a neurologist for further evaluation.

7. Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis damages myelin sheath, the protective covering of the nerve fibers. That can cause a disruption in nerve signals which can manifest in tremor, among other things.

8. Overactive thyroid

An overactive thyroid can cause hand tremors and other symptoms, which include increased heart rate, increased appetite, weight loss, nervousness and irritability, sleep problems, and excessive sweating. A common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves' disease.

9. Alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal

Drinking too much alcohol over a prolonged period of time can cause the hands to become shaky, as can alcohol withdrawal.

When to see a doctor if you have hand tremor

See your doctor if the tremor:

  • is persistent;
  • interferes with your daily activities;
  • is getting worse;
  • is accompanied by other symptoms.

Your hand tremor is unlikely to be caused by anything serious and untreatable, but it's best to see your doctor and know for sure.

Source: HealthLine, Cleveland Clinic, WebMD

READ ALSO: 9 Possible Causes Of Tingling Sensation In The Hands And Feet


This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.