Tremor or shaking hands

A tremor is when you're not able to control shaking or trembling in part of your body.

See a GP if a tremor is affecting your life. Treatment may help to reduce it.

When a tremor is normal

It's normal to have a slight tremor. For example, if you hold your hands or arms out in front of you, they will not be completely still.

Sometimes a tremor becomes more noticeable.

This often happens:

  • as you get older
  • when you're stressed, tired, anxious or angry
  • after drinking caffeine (for example, in tea, coffee or cola) or smoking
  • if you're very hot or cold

Some medicines and conditions can also cause a tremor.

Information:

Speak to your GP before you stop taking any prescribed medicine.

Non-urgent advice: See your GP if you have a tremor or shaking hands and it's:

  • getting worse over time
  • affecting your daily activities

Your GP will check if the tremor is caused by another condition. They may also be able to offer treatment.

At your GP appointment

Your GP will examine you and ask about:

  • other symptoms
  • the medicine you're taking
  • your and your family's medical history – some types of tremor run in families

A mild tremor that is not caused by another condition does not usually need any treatment. Your GP may want to monitor you to make sure it does not get any worse.

Your GP may refer you to a specialist for more tests if your tremor could be a symptom of a condition such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.

Treating a severe tremor

If you have a tremor that's affecting your life, your GP may prescribe medicine. Medicine cannot cure the tremor, but it often helps to reduce the shaking or trembling.

You may need to take medicine all the time or only when you need it. For example, before a stressful situation that causes your tremor to get worse.

If a tremor is affecting your head or voice, you may have injections to block the nerves and relax the muscles.

In rare cases, brain surgery may be an option to treat a severe tremor that is not helped by medicine.


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 13 April 2021
Next review due: 13 April 2021