Essential tremor is a non-life-threatening movement disorder that can affect specific areas of the body. Sometimes it will manifest in the hands; other times it will manifest in the trunk, head, vocal cords or legs. Though it is uncontrollable, it is differentiated from Parkinson’s disease, or PD, because it is not a progressive, neurological illness. According to the NIH, deep brain stimulation can be used to help control this problem and eliminating tremor “triggers” such as caffeine and other stimulants from the diet is often recommended.
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Essential tremor, though seen in younger people, is often more prevalent in older people. Sometimes it is confused with Parkinson’s, but there are things that are very different about it. It starts off gradually, worsens with movement, often begins in your hands and they tremor when you are reaching out to do something. With PD, you have what is called a “resting tremor,” meaning your hand has a tremor when it is just lying on your lap.
To diagnose essential tremor, the doctor will have to distinguish it from PD or other problems that could bring on a tremor such as a tumor or thyroid disease. Some ways to control essential tremor will be by using drugs such as beta blockers, anti-seizure medications, tranquilizers or Botox injections. Though essential tremor is not life-threatening, it can be a source of embarrassment in a social setting or at work.
The Mediterranean Diet
Some of the most important things that you can do to help yourself with controlling your tremor is to avoid caffeine and other stimulants, consume very little alcohol, try different relaxation techniques and try to get enough rest. The Mediterranean diet, is a way of eating that emphasizes fresh, unprocessed whole foods, olive oil, fish and nuts and a glass of wine with dinner. In a study done through the National Institutes of Health, the Mediterranean diet was found to actually help people with essential tremor.
The Mediterranean diet is situated on the food pyramid in this way: meats and sweets at the top in the smallest triangle, then poultry, eggs and yogurt, then fish and seafood, then in the largest category is fruits, vegetables, grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. This type of diet is not only good for a normal, healthy person, it is also noted by MayoClinic.com that it may lower the incidence of PD and Alzheimer’s disease. If it really does this, then it would be very helpful for someone with benign essential tremor.
Consulting Your Family Physician
However you choose to treat your essential tremor, you should discuss it first with your primary care physician. Based on your body mass index, family history and lifestyle, you and your caregiver can come up with a personalized plan to cope with essential tremor.