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Medications for Essential Tremor
Essential tremor (ET) is a nervous system disease characterized by uncontrollable shakes to the head, neck, trunk, arms, legs, voice, and other parts of the body. Some people have more mild symptoms associated with (ET) and do not require any treatment. Others require one or more treatments to minimize their symptoms. When the symptoms associated with ET interfere with a person’s daily living activities, a health care provider may suggest that they try medication as a treatment. Below we have summarized some of the most commonly prescribed medications to treat ET.
Beta-blockers are a medication typically used to treat high blood pressure. For some people, beta-blockers can also be used to help reduce tremors. It is thought that beta-blockers work to reduce tremors by blocking nerve impulses to the muscle. Propanolol is a beta-blocker that has been used to treat ET for over 40 years, but other beta-blockers, such as metoprolol have proven to be effective. About 50-60% of people who take beta-blockers experience some improvement in limb function, but generally, full tremor suppression is not achieved. Beta-blockers are more effective at controlling tremors of the hand and voice box, in comparison to other body parts.
Some side effects associated with beta-blockers include low heart rate, low blood pressure, fainting, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, depression, and apathy. People taking beta-blockers meet routinely with their health care provider to measure their blood pressure and heart rate. Unfortunately, about 10% of people who take beta-blockers will develop a tolerance to the drug treatment after one year, and will require additional drugs to control their tremors.
Mysoline is another drug that is used to treat ET. Generally, Mysoline is used to prevent seizures. It is not completely understood how Mysoline reduces tremors, but it has proven to be as effective as some beta-blockers. Similarly, though, many people who take Mysoline to control their tremors develop a tolerance to the drug within the first year of consumption. Mysoline is often prescribed to people who do not tolerate beta-blockers, but it can also be used in addition to beta-blockers.
Mysoline often causes short-term side effects that usually diminish with longer use. These include walking difficulties, nausea, fatigue, confusion, and dizziness. More severe, but less common side effects include blood cell and bone marrow problems. People taking Mysoline have regular check-ups with their healthcare provider to prevent the onset of more serious side effects.
Health care professionals may prescribe tranquilizers to people with ET if their tremors seem to worsen with tension or anxiety. Most often, this type of treatment is only prescribed when someone with ET does not respond well, or at all, to other treatment options.
Some side effects can include confusion, memory loss, and sedation. While tranquilizers have proven to be an effective means of controlling tremors, these medications should be used with caution. This is because they can become highly addictive if used improperly.
Botox injections are another form of medication that can be useful in controlling tremors associated with ET. Botox injections are particularly successful in controlling tremors of the head and neck. However, using botox to control voice tremors can sometimes cause a hoarse voice, and may introduce difficulties with swallowing. Sometimes, botox injections can be beneficial in controlling tremors of the hands. However, when botox is used to control hand tremors it can sometimes cause weakness in the fingers.
As you can see, there are various medications that can be used as treatments for ET. Although, all of these medications carry risks and have the potential to cause unwanted side effects. If you are looking for a treatment option that does not cause any of the side effects associated with medications, check out the Steadi-Two!
The Steadi-Two is an assistive device designed to reduce hand tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease and ET. The device is battery-free, light-weight, machine washable, and easy to use. The Steadi-Two can be worn on either the left or right hand with no adjustments needed. Click here to learn more about the Steadi-Two.