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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Trembling
      Category : Health Centers > Brain and Nervous System


Alternate Names : Tremor, Involuntary Shaking

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

The term trembling is generally used to describe involuntary or unintentional shaking.

What is going on in the body?

Many people have experienced trembling before. It can happen when a person is cold or nervous. However, trembling has many causes, and some of those causes can be quite serious.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

There are many possible causes of trembling. These include:

  • strong emotion, such as fear, anger, or anxiety
  • stress or fatigue
  • being cold. This can simply be due to feeling chilled or a more serious condition such as hypothermia, or low body temperature.
  • benign essential tremor, sometimes called senile tremor. This is often an inherited condition that causes mild trembling with no other symptoms.
  • hyperthyroidism, or a level of thyroid hormone in the body that is too high
  • certain drugs or medications. Examples include:
  • prednisone, commonly used to reduce inflammation
  • caffeine
  • albuterol, used in the treatment of asthma
  • some medications used for psychatric conditions, such as haldol
  • withdrawal from alcohol
  • damage to the central nervous system. Damage to areas of the brain called the cerebellum and basal ganglia are most likely to cause trembling. Basal ganglia disorders include Parkinson's disease and Huntington disease. Strokes, or brain attacks, can also cause brain damage that may result in trembling.
  • kidney or liver failure, which can cause a type of trembling called asterixis
  • seizures, or epilepsy, which occur due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain
  • myoclonus, a condition that results in brief, quick movements of one or more muscles. This can be due to Alzheimer disease, kidney failure, or a head injury, among other causes.
  • tics, a type of quick, repeated movement. This may be the result of condition called Tourette syndrome or other conditions.
  • hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar
  • a tumor or cancer, such as a brain tumor
  • Other causes are also possible. Sometimes, no cause can be found.


    Next section


    Trembling: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Melissa Sanders, PharmD
    Date Reviewed: 03/28/01

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