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Quick Dose: What Causes My Hands to Shake?

Quick Dose: What Causes My Hands to Shake?

From caffeine overload to essential tremor, there could be a number of explanations for shaking hands.

The most common cause of shaking hands is essential tremor. Experienced by more than seven million Americans, this condition often presents itself in your arms and hands. It is most likely to occur when performing actions, such as picking up your car keys or holding a glass of water.

Both stress and caffeine can cause a physiologic tremor. In other words, these stimulants make your heartbeat and blood flow more pronounced, causing a subtle tremor. If this is the case, cut back on the java or find ways to alleviate stress, such as meditation or yoga.

Medication can also be a culprit, especially amphetamines and some antidepressants. If your side effects are bothersome, talk to your physician about possible alternatives.

Shaking hands are often associated with Parkinson’s disease, as it is one of the first telltale signs of the neurological condition. Not to be confused with essential tremor or physiologic tremor which both occur more when you are using your hands, this type of shaking usually occurs when hands are at rest. About 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease every year. Early signs vary, but can also include loss of smell, acting out your dreams, and constipation. In addition to shaking, symptoms of Parkinson’s can include slowness and stiffness.

While shaking hands could be worrisome, there is no reason to immediately suspect Parkinson’s disease. Consult your physician if you have had shaking hands for a prolonged period of time. Together, you can determine the underlying cause and find the appropriate treatment, if needed.