Familial tremor is basically essential tremor that runs in a family. If more than one person in a family presents with symptoms of essential tremor, it is considered familial tremor. Like essential tremor, it is a neurological disorder that can affect one part of the body or affect all of it.
Symptoms of familial tremor
The primary symptom of familial tremor is shaking. The hands often shake more than other body parts or may be the only body part that shakes. The tremors can occur throughout the body, but are rare in the lower extremities. The tremors come from the muscles, so it is possible to have tremors in the face and abdomen.
The severity of familial tremor can wax and wane from the time of onset, which is typically around the start of middle age. The tremors also tend to get worse as you age. Tremors can also get worse with stimulants like caffeine and certain over-the-counter and prescription medications. People who sleep with sufferers may notice that the tremors cease during sleep. They may also become less frequent when a person is resting but still awake.
Familial tremor can make it difficult to perform tasks that require fine motor skills. This includes writing, typing, tying shoes and buttoning buttons. This, along with the social implications of tremors, is really the only handicap of familial tremor. It is not a disease that can cause illness and death. Nonetheless, the tremors are a nuisance and can be disabling.
Causes of familial tremor
The precise cause of familial tremor is unknown, though there is clearly a genetic component. Only one parent needs to carry the gene for a person to develop familial tremor and only one other person in the family must have it for it to be determined to run in a family.
The problem that causes familial and essential tremor originates in the nerves. It seems that the nerves do not communicate properly with the muscles, so tremors occur. They appear to get worse with physical activity, so it would appear that the signals for the muscles are being crossed, to put it simply.
Roughly half of the cases of essential tremor are estimated to be linked to genetics. Therefore, the cause of familial essential tremor may be different from essential tremor in those cases that are not genetic. There is some indication that things like meat consumption and cigarette smoking can cause non-familial essential tremor. Of course, no cause has been established.
Treatment of familial tremor
Many cases of familial tremor go without treatment. Minor cases do not interfere with everyday activities and are only a small bother, so they do not require treatment. Individuals who find it difficult to perform certain tasks may opt for medication in the hope that they will regain some of their dexterity.
The most common treatment option for familial tremor is medication. Some beta-blockers, antiepileptics and anticonvulsants can decrease the symptoms. There are more invasive treatments, such as deep brain stimulation, but they are reserved for only the worst cases.