George Krucik, MD, MBA
The sensation of shaking, or trembling, can cause you concern when you don't know the cause. You might have difficulty describing the sensation you feel inside because you cannot demonstrate it. The list of possible causes might alarm you, but it may help you to eliminate the reasons that do not apply to you. If the sensations continue or you feel concerned about them, you should consult a doctor.
Some things in your everyday life may bring on the shakiness. For instance, drinking caffeine and using tobacco a little or a lot can give you the jitters. That is because they stimulate the nervous system. If you do either one to excess or use them together, you double their effects. Medications may cause trembling. Blood pressure medications, antidepressants and other commonly drugs could cause shakiness. Ask your doctor about this. Going long periods without food or eating mostly simple carbs can cause you blood sugar to surge and then plummet. When your blood sugar drops, you will shake until you feed your body more sugar. Lack of sleep or physical exhaustion with or without excessive sweating can give you the jitters, too.
Some common causes of shaking include Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, severely low calcium levels, erratic blood pressure, diabetes and illnesses that make you feel weak, such as heart disease, liver failure and autoimmune disorders. Sometimes you may feel palpitations or fluttering in your chest that you assume are digestive in nature. Your body may tremble when you run a fever or feel a chill. If your blood pressure falls due to too much hypertension medication or from not eating well enough when taking the drug, you will feel not only shaky, but light-headed too.
Shaking can symbolize great fear. Still, even a low level of anxiety can make you tremble. It can come from stress, your health concerns or your job and family. Even transient situations can cause you to have a startle reaction. The blare of a car horn, a child with a deep cut or the sound of someone falling down stairs can leave you shaking for quite a long time. People with bipolar disease and other depression syndromes often experience inside trembling. Another emotion that can cause you to shake is anger. Holding it in can make you tremble and letting it out exhausts your energy, which leaves you feeling weak and shaky.
If you can narrow down the probable causes of your trembling, try testing some solutions to see if they work. You can monitor your intake of caffeine, tobacco, sugars and prescription drugs. Take note if the trembling accompanies any of these. If you suspect your diet, avoid eating simple carbs without protein at meals. If your sugar drops and you shake, eat or drink something sweet, like orange juice. If the shaking stops, low blood sugar is the most likely cause. Then, eat some protein to avoid a recurrence. At the onset of shakiness, evaluate whether you've slept well, eaten in last four hours or experienced something that caused you to feel anxious. Check your thermostat to see if the setting is too low. Your doctor can test you further for health conditions that may cause your symptoms.
- Merck Manual Online Medical Library: Tremor: Causes
- "2010 Current Diagnosis and Treatment"; Stephen J. McPhee, M.D. and Maxine A. Papadakis, M.D.