A Doctor Shares With Us When To Worry About Your Shaky Hands

Have you ever experienced a slight tremble or shake in your hands? It is not uncommon to experience this, particularly as we age. However, what if your hand tremors are more than just a minor inconvenience? Shakiness, medically known as "tremors," is due to involuntary muscle contractions that can cause parts of the body to tremble. Hand tremors are the most prevalent type of tremor, and a variety of conditions or factors can cause them.

According to Dr. Jason Singh, Chief Medical Officer and Physician at One Oak Medical, shaky hands are frequently not a cause for concern. "Essential tremors are common and are generally benign," Dr. Singh exclusively told Health Digest. "These belong in a category of movement disorders... characterized by shaking hands, but other body parts can be involved too, such as head and voice."

However, there are a few circumstances in which you should consider visiting a doctor.

When to seek medical attention for shaky hands

If you notice that your hands are shaking for no apparent reason, it's always best to consult your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Hand tremors can be a symptom of various medical conditions, some of which could be serious. If you're also experiencing muscle stiffness, slow movements, or issues with balance and coordination, Dr. Singh says it's imperative to seek medical attention. Many concerning medical conditions can cause tremors, such as multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke, electrolyte imbalance, or even overconsumption of alcohol. 

In addition, you should visit your doctor if the shaking seems to be worsening or if it significantly interferes with daily activities like writing, eating, or drinking. The sooner you seek medical advice, the better. However, don't panic, as many harmless factors can also trigger shaky hands. Identifying and diagnosing any underlying medical conditions is the first step to receiving proper treatment and feeling better.

Common but less-concerning causes of shaky hands

There are several common but less concerning causes of shaky hands. For instance, Johns Hopkins Medicine states that essential tremor is the most common cause of tremors in adults and is not associated with any underlying medical conditions. Essential tremor typically affects the hands but can also affect other body parts, such as the head, voice, and legs. It is usually worse when the person is feeling stressed or anxious or performing a fine motor task, such as writing or pouring a glass of water. Treatment can include lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery.

Hypoglycemia, which is when blood sugar levels drop too low, can cause muscle tremors (per Cleveland Clinic). Low blood sugar can be caused by diabetes, skipping meals, or excessive exercise. According to Healthline, some medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, can cause tremors as a side effect.

"Other causes include anxiety, which activates the body's fight-or-flight response, which can release brain chemicals and hormones that cause physical symptoms such as shaking hands," Dr. Singh explained. "Severe fatigue can cause this, too, as being extremely tired reduces muscle control and coordination, which can lead to trembling. Caffeine is another common cause where too much consumption can overstimulate the nervous system and cause tremors. I see this a lot in my younger patients who consume energy drinks like Redbull, Monster, and Five-hour shots."

Tips for managing shaky hands

If you are experiencing shaky hands due to one of these less-concerning causes, you can do a few things to reduce the tremors. One of the most important things you can do is get enough rest. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Consider reducing your caffeine intake or cutting it out completely. Also, try to make sure you eat regular meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable. 

If you feel like your shaky hands might be caused by your medicine, don't hesitate to discuss switching to a different medication or reducing your dosage with your doctor. And if you're worried at all about your shaky hands, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor, even if you think it's nothing serious. They can evaluate your symptoms, identify the root cause of your tremors, and recommend further treatments if needed.