Harvard Women's Health Watch

Essential tremor and how to manage it

This condition is less well known than Parkinson's disease, but it's far more common.

For many, the late actress Katherine Hepburn provided an indelible public image of essential tremor. Her quavering voice and trembling hands unmistakably betrayed the disorder. About 10 million people in the United States manifest symptoms of the condition, which variably causes the hands, head, and voice to shake.

For women with essential tremor, holding a coffee cup, writing a note, buttoning a sweater, and applying makeup can all be challenging and sources of frustration or embarrassment. When the condition interferes with independent living or holding a job, it can be devastating. Fortunately, there are medications that help control the symptoms, and ways to make the tasks of daily living easier.

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