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Molly Maloof, MD

Director of Clinical Content

Head tremors

A friend's head shakes continuously and her hands also. It has increased over the years from hardly noticeable to quite pronounced. Otherwise in ok health. She's 78 yrs old and I'm concerned. But I'm not sure how to discuss this with her. Thanks you.
  • Female | 74 years old

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Featured Answer

1 UpVoted this answer
Parkinsons is a possibility but familial tremor worsens as you get older and is statistically much more likely. Either way there are meds for both conditions. I think honesty is the best policy..."I worry about you and notice you have more tremor than before....would you like me to go to the doctor with you to get this checked out? " If she gets mad at you for showing your concern there is more wrong with her than the shaking. If you socialize with her you can get a clue as to the cause of the tremor with its response to alcohol....if she has a drink and the tremors are better it suggest essential tremor. I usually tell patients to ignore the tremor until it affects their lives like handwriting or eating ......It's good of you to worry about your friend.
1 UpVoted this answer
Tremors at rest is concerning for Parkinsonism.

--Is the tremor worse (more pronounced) when their arm is trying to reach for something or when at rest?

--Does she "roll" her fingers (lookup "Pill Rolling Tremor") when she walks?

--Does she have a history of Parkinsonism in her family?

To the point, regarding bringing up the topic with her... If she's a good friend, the simple comment/question, "I've noticed you having more difficulty with _____(writing, holding things, etc.), have you talked to anyone/have you seen a physician about this?" would be appropriate. Frequently, many of us avoid bringing up potentially uncomfortable topics believing that we may offend another. However, such conversations/interventions often result in good outcomes - at a minimum, they let another know that we truly care about their welfare.

Good luck.
1 UpVoted this answer
Her condition is likely Benign Essential Tremor. There is frequently an associated hand tremor which is most prominent with motor movement such as drinking out of a coffee cup or trying to eat soup with a spoon. There are various treatments for this so she should see a physician. It is usually familial, meaning other family members are similarly effected.
John S. Ferris
Increased tremors of the head and hands are probably related to Parkinson's Disease or some other neurological problem. Your friend is probably aware of it and if she isn't then you need to take her to her doctor.