What causes tremors in the hands?

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A hand tremor is an involuntary trembling, or shaking of your hand. Hand tremors can occur at any age but are more common in older people. If the tremor occurs while your hand is at rest it is called a static tremor.

Tremors that occur when you are using your hand for something, such as to reach for something or to write, but go away when you rest your hand, are kinetic tremors. Holding your hand in one position too long can result in a postural tremor. Hand tremors can occur for many reasons and often affect other parts of your body as well.

Caffeine or Alcohol

Caffeine is a stimulant that affects your nervous system and cardiovascular system. It increases your metabolism and heart rate. Drinking too much coffee or other caffeinated beverage can result in hand tremors. Excessive consumption of alcohol can have the same effect. It is a depressant that affects your nervous system and may result in loss of motor control. In addition, withdrawal from alcohol can cause "the shakes."

Stress or Fatigue

Hand tremors may be caused by stress (or anxiety) and fatigue. Emotional anxiety or stress can affect your nervous system and cause your hands to shake. Overuse of your hands can result in a loss of motor control, resulting in tremors. To reduce these hand tremors you can use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation.


According to the National Institutes of Health, hand tremors are common in the elderly. It may begin gradually and progress to become more frequent. While it can occur while your hand it at rest, it becomes worse when you are using your hands. This is called an essential tremor. It can involve just one hand or both, and may also involve other parts of your body. In some cases it can inhibit your ability to manage daily functions.


Sometimes hand tremors can be caused by your reaction to medications. The tremors disappear when you discontinue the medicine. Your doctor may reduce the dosage or try a different medication if it is bothersome. If the medication that causes tremors is absolutely necessary, another medication, propranalol or mysoline, may be prescribed to help control the tremors. You should consult your physician before stopping any of your medications.

Low Blood Sugar

Tremors are a symptom of low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia, which occurs when you have too much insulin in your body. It can result from skipping meals, alcohol use, serious infection or taking too much insulin or other diabetic medication. It may also be caused by the use of other medications such as beta blockers, Bactrim, Septra or pentamidine. It may also be the result of other serious medical conditions such as kidney or liver failure and some cancers. It most commonly occurs in diabetics.


Parkinson's disease is a degenerative condition of your nervous system. It results in loss of motor control and includes resting hand tremors, sometimes one of the first noticeable symptoms. There is no cure for Parkinson's disease; however, there are medications that can help control your symptoms. Parkinson's is not a fatal disease and it usually progresses very slowly. Fatalities from Parkinson's can result from complications of the disease.


Your doctor may use a number of tests to diagnose your hand tremors including blood tests for a complete blood count, blood differential, glucose test and thyroid function tests. He may also order a urine test, MRI or CT scan of your head and nerve conduction studies. After determining the cause of your tremors, he can recommend the appropriate treatment.