Diagnosis of essential tremor is based on the observation of symptoms, a thorough medical history, physical examination, and neurological examination. Performance tests, such as asking the patient to write, draw, hold an object, or drink from a glass, help the physician evaluate the tremor.

Differential Diagnosis

Results from blood and urine tests can help the physician rule out other causes such as the following:

  • Heavy metal poisoning (usually caused by exposure to lead or mercury)
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Side effect of medication (e.g., asthma drugs, antidepressants)
  • Thyroid disease

Essential tremor is not related to Parkinson's disease. Tremor caused by Parkinson's is more pronounced during rest and usually does not affect the head or voice.

Publication Review By: Jean-Raphael Schneider, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2000

Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015