Understanding Essential Tremor (ET)

Also known as familial tremor, benign essential tremor or hereditary tremor, essential tremor (ET) is a progressive neurological condition that causes a rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, voice, legs or trunk.

It is often confused with Parkinson’s disease and dystonia and can be equally as disabling. Because of stereotypes and a lack of awareness, many people with ET never seek medical care, though most would benefit from treatment. The International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF) estimates that 10 million Americans suffer from ET.

Quick Facts About Essential Tremor

  • It is false to assume that ET is confined to the elderly. Children and middle-aged people can also have ET.
  • There is evidence that ET is genetic. Each child of a parent who has ET has a 50% chance of inheriting a gene that causes the condition. However, sometimes people with no family history of tremor develop ET.
  • There are few effective prescription medications available for treating ET. Unfortunately, it is estimated that less than 60% of people with ET are helped by these medications.


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