Hands are shaking

Shaky hands can be nothing to worry about or something more serious. Whatever it is, don’t let them go undiagnosed. 

Have you ever noticed that you can’t hold a cup of coffee still? Or your hands sometimes quiver so much that it interferes with your daily chores. Those involuntary hand movements are called “tremors”.

So what may be causing your tremors? Hand tremors can stem from a wide variety of reasons, ranging from a benign caffeine overload to something serious like Parkinsonian disease. 

How to tell why your hands are shaking? In most cases, you can’t. But doctors can help determine the cause of your shaky hands based on how and when your tremors usually show up. 

For example, you can have an action tremor that manifests when you are lifting or manipulating something with your hands. This type of hand tremors may become most evident when you are doing something against gravity, such as while you are drinking or eating or are trying to pick up something and hold it in front of your face. You can also have a rest tremor, which implies that your hands shake or quiver when it’s immobile or at your side. 

Regardless of which sort of hand tremor you’re dealing with, you need to consult a healthcare provider, especially if it is obstructing your ability to function or causing you much embarrassment around other people.

In this article, we'll explore the top reasons why your hands are shaking and what you can do about it.

Why Your Hands Are Shaking: Top 09 Reasons

Here are some possible reasons why your hands are shaking:

You’re a healthy living individual

Before we dive into more acute causes of hand tremors, know that your body has natural vibration to it 24*7. This is what is termed as “physiologic tremor.”

Everyone has a little bit of quivering as no one is perfectly still. If you are in truly good health, you may be able to actually witness these little tremors as you outstretch your arm and hold still. If you have tried this out, you may have noticed your fingers are shaking just a bit. Well, that’s the natural vibe of your body. These types of tremors can become more intense when you are performing a comprehensive task such as threading a needle.  

You may have a movement disorder

There are various movement disorders that can lead to hand tremors, but the most common one is an “essential tremor.” It generally happens when you move and so remains unnoticed by people in many cases.

This type of hand tremor is also called “action” or “intention” tremor. If you have essential tremors, you may notice your hands are shaking when you are writing a letter or trying to drink your cup of tea or coffee. While essential tumors are not a sign of any serious underlying condition, they can be extremely embarrassing and enfeebling, depending on their intensity.

Research says that essential tremors tend to run in families. About 60% of people with essential tremors have a strong family history with it. It is a familial disease, but we are not sure if it’s a genetic disease because no specific gene is known to cause this abnormality.

You may have Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis

Undoubtedly, both Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis are harmful to your nervous system, but they show up in many different ways. 

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes specific brain cells to die off in the substantia nigra, the section in the brain that produces dopamine and controls movement and balance. Parkinson's tremors are distinct in a way that it doesn’t mimic jitters or essential tremors. 

You have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

You may experience hand tremors when your thyroid gland goes haywire and start producing too many hormones. People who have an overactive thyroid suffer from a condition called hyperthyroidism.

The thyroid gland is the master gland of your endocrine system and is located at the front part of the neck. It governs most of the essential functions in your body and so when the thyroid staves off, so does the rest of your body.

Sometimes people with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland) also experience hand tremors when they overdo their medications.

Shakiness from thyroid disorders can vary, ranging from barely visible to clearly visible.

You could be experiencing a psychogenic tremor

Psychogenic tremor usually occurs when you are already dealing with a psychological disorder such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Doctors aren’t able to pass a general statement regarding how these hand tremors show up as they are evoked by subconscious triggers. Hand tremors caused by a psychological problem are really challenging to diagnose. So doctors generally try to rule out all other disorders and conditions before considering psychogenic reasons as the underlying cause. 

You are consuming too much caffeine

Many of us have got into situations where we have had a little bit too much coffee or tea- these are all stimulants that significantly impact your autonomic nervous system and cause you to feel jittery. 

You are taking a medication that causes hand tremors

There’s a whole bunch of medications that can cause hand tremors. Medication-induced shaking of hands occurs involuntarily and generally happens when you are holding your hands, arms, or head in a specific position. 

Your blood sugar is low

Your brain is accountable for controlling your sense of stability. So, when the brain is not getting the nutrients it needs, you may notice hand tremors. 

Also, the brain is very different from the rest of your body organs in a way that it doesn't produce its own sugar. So, it can get affected a bit too early than other organs. 

When your blood sugar level is low, any section of your brain can become dysfunctional. So, if you are highly susceptible to hand tremors, you may feel you start trembling when you haven’t eaten for a while. 

You are not getting adequate sleep

Your brain starts to malfunction when you are deprived of sleep. The body generally uses sleep to reset and repair cells. So if you are not getting adequate sleep, which for adults ranges between 7 and 9 hours, you are compelling your body to work in a stressful situation. Your body will start pumping off adrenaline to try to keep you awake and functional. But this, in turn, can make your heart work more and your limbs tremble.

What Can You Do To Stop Hand Tremors?

If you think your hands are shaking because of excessive caffeine intake, skipping meals, stress, or inadequate sleep, the best solution would be to make relevant lifestyle changes. Trade-in coffee for some water, have healthy snacks between routine meals, get those 7-9 hours of sleep, and try to manage your stress with the help of a therapist to see if your hand tremors improve.

But if you believe your condition is not improving and has more serious problems, schedule an appointment with your general physician as soon as possible. They will help you determine the next best steps based on your condition.

In the days ahead of the appointment, jot down the nature of your hand tremors. Do they exacerbate when you are stressed or depressed? Do your fingers shake while they are on your side or while you are texting? Ask about your family’s health history. Make a list of all the medications you take (including prescription and non-prescription drugs). And when you are asked about your alcohol and drug use habits, don’t be afraid of being honest. A good doctor will want to know more about your condition so as to get to know you and treat you in the best possible way.