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Ask Doctor K: Beta-blockers are effective treatment for essential tremor

Essential tremor is a permanent condition. Without treatment, the degree of tremor typically worsens with age. It also can expand from one part of the body to other parts over time.
BY DR. ANTHONY L. KOMAROFF Published: January 22, 2013

Beta-blockers, particularly propranolol (Inderal), are the most effective treatments for essential tremor. Beta-blockers usually improve the tremor so that it does not interfere with normal activities. In some people, the tremor disappears. If you stop taking the medication, the tremor will return.

Stress, caffeine and certain medicines may make the tremor worse. If that's the case for you, learn ways to reduce your stress and cut down on caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks.

Some medications, including stimulants and antidepressants, may also affect your tremor. Ask your doctor if you are taking any medications that could be worsening your tremor.

Dr. Anthony Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School. To send questions, go to, or write: Ask Doctor K, 10 Shattuck St., Second Floor, Boston, MA 02115.