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Causes of Shaky Hands

Having shaky hands can be a very concerning symptom not only because it is in itself off putting and can make some behaviors difficult (writing, drawing, generally trying to hold a steady hand) while also making you appear nervous; but also because it can sometimes point to brain damage and degenerative conditions such as Parkinson's.

Of course there are many other reasons that you might experience shaky hands which aren't as dangerous or serious, so before you panic too much it's important to make sure that you look into what the possible causes of the problem might be, and that you go to the doctor to be seen by a medical expert. Here are a few causes of shaky hands that might be afflicting you.

Note: Shaking hands are technically known as 'tremors' and are likely to not only affect your hands, but the whole body. They are however most noticeable in the hands.

Low Sugar

Low blood sugar can cause tremors and this can occur if you haven't eaten in a long time and particularly if you haven't eaten carbs. Likewise your blood sugar can fall rapidly in the face of a traumatic event or injury if it causes you to go into shock. Other symptoms of low blood sugar will be feeling faint and possibly experiencing low mood along with tiredness. Try eating a banana or something similar in order to help return your blood sugar levels to normal.

Caffeine Overdose

Caffeine is a stimulant and this means that it causes your body to have the 'fight or flight response' triggering the release of adrenaline that makes you ready to sprint away from trouble or to confront it. Over do the caffeine however and this can then increase your energy to the point where you are shaking and where you are unable to steady yourself. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others so what constitutes an 'overdose' for you might be different from what is considered an overdose for someone else. If you've just had a large cup of coffee, or lots of coca cola, then a caffeine surge is a likely explanation.

Adrenaline

Adrenaline on its own can be triggered in many ways. For instance it can be a result of shock, or of a confrontation, and this then causes an increased heart beat, shaking, and racing thoughts. The solution is to try and control your breathing and to remove yourself from the stressful situation.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are caused by excess adrenaline and can be triggered by a phobia or stress, or can come on their own without any cause. They are often compared to heart attacks and involve a crushing pain in the chest coupled with shortness of breath, panic of course, and racing thoughts. Unfortunately the belief that the patient may be having a heart attack is often what causes the panic attack to continue and results in their being unable to relax and recover. Often panic attacks will occur at night just as the individual is falling asleep and once they have had one they are more likely to have more the following nights. Recognizing panic attacks for what they are and learning to relax and control your breathing and heart rate is the best way to manage the effect.

Withdrawal

Shaking hands can sometimes be a withdrawal symptom and alcoholics or smokers might find they experience tremors when they try to give up.

Parkinson's

Parkinson's disease of course is what most people associate with tremors. Other symptoms of Parkinson's include muscle rigidity, general slow movement and unusual gait. Parkinson's disease is most common in elderly individuals.

Brain Damage

A range of different types of brain damage can all cause shaking and this can have a range of different causes as well as various different symptoms. Common causes of brain damage are injury, stroke and brain tumor.

Nerve and Movement Disorders

These are disorders that affect movement by affecting the nerves such as dystonia.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis can cause an 'intention tremor' which is slightly different from other forms of tremor in that it is most pronounced when the individual is moving. In particular an intention tremor will cause shaking when the patient moves toward the end of the movement.

Overactive Thyroid

An overactive thyroid is a condition in which an individual's metabolism is faster than normal which means they burn fat and energy quickly. Tiredness and weight loss are other symptoms of an overactive thyroid.





Theodoros Manfredi

Article reviewed by Theodoros Manfredi, PhD. A licensed physician who has worked with children and families for over seven years.


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Comments
  • Comment #1 (Posted by Janis Keller)
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    I noticed today that my daughter's left hand was shaking. All day she had been complaining of not being able to think straight, of being tired. She's 38 and is starting heavy periods, so I chalked her complaints up to her period. Then, when she was washing a few dishes, I was helping in the kitchen and noticed that her left hand was trembling. Not her right, just her left. I was afraid it might have something to do with her heart, so I sent looking. You stated that poor eating habits could cause shaky hands, and I felt so much better. My daughter said that she will try to eat 3 meals a day now, instead of 1, and I think she'll feel much better. I can't take her to the cardiologist because I am on SSI myself, and my daughter has been taken off, a year after having surgery on her heart. I appreciate your information much. Thank you.
     
  • Comment #2 (Posted by shae)
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    I am anemic and when my iron levels or hemoglobin levels are very low, my hands shake. My legs and some other things do too but my hands are most noticeable.
     
  • Comment #3 (Posted by Cloie)
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    if you have had soft drink like a hole bottle of it how long do I have to wait to stop shaking
     
  • Comment #4 (Posted by an unknown user)
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    The descriptions in this article are relatable. Thank you!
     
  • Comment #5 (Posted by D'Lyn)
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    The low sugar paragraph actually defined a thing or two for me. I just wanted to say that I appreciate the article and that I am going to share a link to it. Thanks!
     
  • Comment #6 (Posted by an unknown user)
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    Thank you
     
  • Comment #7 (Posted by Raheem)
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    Informative one and I want to know how to overcome...
     
  • Comment #8 (Posted by an unknown user)
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    thank u
     
  • Comment #9 (Posted by an unknown user)
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    Great clues, thank you.
     
  • Comment #10 (Posted by Ken)
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    I was wondering... when I was a kid, I tend to wash my hands all the time even after writing or doing a tiresome work, as time passes by my hands started to get sweaty and sometimes a little bit shaky, can you please help me diagnose my current condition?
     
  • Comment #11 (Posted by an unknown user)
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    Information that gives do's and dont's. Very nice!
     
  • Comment #12 (Posted by Akbar Tharani)
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    Very good way of presenting every situation of shaky hands, clearing all the doubts and leaving no questions. Good job!
     
  • Comment #13 (Posted by Jimmy)
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    Good content. I really needed this information. Thank you for sharing it, good luck for future articles.
     
  • Comment #14 (Posted by Arvind)
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    While using mobile phone my hand was trembled and I need not lift more weight of loaded things.
     
  • Comment #15 (Posted by John Love)
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    This article would be so much better if it also included a paragraph on what is termed "essential tremor".
     
  • Comment #16 (Posted by Sierra)
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    I have suffered tremors, shaking hands, most all of my life since childhood. Raised in an abused home and marriage. Now elder it has developed more and doctors don't understand it. One put me on Propranolol but that didn't stop the tremors.

    I love in an old apartment building that still has iron pipes and wonder if that could add to this condition.

    Would love any advice you may have.

    Thank you for all you do.
     


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