Trembling hands in adolescence

What are trembling hands in adolescence?

Trembling hands are not uncommon and are usually not a cause for concern in adolescence. By definition, trembling hands are uncontrolled, involuntary, but rhythmic hand movements that usually also include the forearms. The frequency with which the tremors occur can vary from illness to illness.


The most common causes of trembling hands in adolescence differ significantly from the causes in old age.
Typically in adolescence it is a so-called essential tremor, as well as hyperthyroidism or drug or alcohol consumption that trigger the tremor. Most of these causes are reversible or well treatable with medication.

Essential tremor

Essential tremor is a form of trembling that has not yet been identified as having a cause. It is believed that it is a combination of different neural defects that causes the tremor.

Typical of essential tremor is that it affects not only the hands but also the head and causes the vocal folds to tremble, which is expressed in a voice that varies in height. Since the cause has not yet been clarified, the therapy can only be symptomatic. So-called beta blockers, which are otherwise used in high blood pressure patients, often show a good effect.

However, the disease shows an intrafamilial accumulation, so that it can be assumed that the disease can be passed on.

You may also be interested in the following article: Essential tremor

Thyroid disease

However, shaking hands can also be a sign of an overactive thyroid, known as hyperthyroidism. Overactive thyroid is usually a so-called autoimmune disease.

In doing so, the body and parts of its immune system are directed against the body's own structures, can destroy them or, in some cases, intensify them enormously. For example with a form of thyroid disease. The thyroid is then stimulated to produce more thyroid hormones, which is why the hormone level rises above the physiological level.

In addition to an increased pulse and a feeling of heat, trembling of the hands is also a symptom of the overactive thyroid.

You might also be interested in the following articles:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Symptoms of an overactive thyroid
  • Thyroid disorders

drug consumption

Drug consumption can on the one hand make itself felt with trembling hands due to its side effects, on the other hand it can also be a sign of the beginning of “poisoning”.

If the drugs have an effect on the dopaminergic system, which is a part of the nervous system affected by Parkinson's disease, drug use can lead to side effects that are very reminiscent of Parkinson's disease and usually appear as trembling hands.

Similar to alcohol, the tremors associated with drug use can also be seen as a consequence of drug withdrawal. In addition to the tremors, there is also cold sweat and mixed thoughts.

Also read: Consequences of drugs

Alcohol consumption

Shaking hands during alcohol consumption is usually a withdrawal symptom that occurs when a body that is used to alcohol begins to abstain from alcohol.

  • In addition to the tremors, there are other symptoms such as cold sweat and high blood pressure. The people are also mostly jittery in their movements and seemingly absent with their thoughts.

Hand tremors can also rarely set in with alcohol intoxication. Here, shaking hands is usually not noticeable when you are resting, but rather with your arm outstretched.

Since the tremor is a typical withdrawal symptom, it can be reduced with medication, but not completely suppressed.

You may also be interested in the following article: Alcohol withdrawal


Low blood sugar (also called hypoglycemia) is a phenomenon that cannot actually occur in healthy people.

  • A frequent cause is the excessive use of insulin, which is responsible for lowering the blood sugar level and transporting the sugar into the body cells. Due to its anabolic effects, insulin is no longer only used by diabetics, but also by strength athletes.
  • Inflammation of the pancreas is another way of experiencing unusually high levels of insulin, which then leads to hypoglycaemia.

The trembling of the hands is an initial warning signal from the body that the sugar level in the blood has fallen below the physiological limit. If the sugar level continues to drop, cold sweats, tremors all over the body, unconsciousness and, in the worst case, death as the final consequence.


The so-called physiological tremor can often be exacerbated under stress. The physiological tremor is always present and basically ensures that movements do not have to be started from the complete rest position.

So some slight tremor is normal with any outstretched arm or hand. In stressful situations, the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the release of stress hormones lead to an increase in the tremor, which ensures that the stress-related tremors reach an amplitude that
visible to the human eye.

If the tremors do not subside after the stress has subsided, you should consult a doctor or, if necessary, a psychologist.

You may also be interested in the following article: Consequences of stress


The diagnosis of exactly which disease is hidden behind the trembling of the hands, if it is a disease, can take different lengths of time. With regard to alcohol or drug consumption in particular, patients must be open and honest with their doctor in order to protect themselves from overdiagnosis and the associated unnecessary physical stress.

In many cases, a corresponding suspected diagnosis already results from a corresponding anamnesis of the patient. Only in later stages of diagnosis can an MRI or CT be used to verify or falsify different suspected diagnoses.

You may also be interested in the following article: Hands are shaking

Other accompanying symptoms

The symptoms that may be present besides the hand tremors depend on the illness that causes the hand tremors.

  • In hypoglycemia, i.e. having too little sugar in the blood, for example, the tremor is often paired with a cold sweat.

The cold sweat is also found, for example, in people who are currently undergoing drug or alcohol withdrawal and are part of the withdrawal syndrome.
Also read: drug withdrawal

  • In the case of essential tremor, in addition to trembling of the hands, there is also a constant rotating movement in the cervical spine and constant variance in the voice of the person concerned, since the vocal cords are also subject to tremors.
  • If Parkinson's syndrome really sets in in adolescence, this is characterized by the triad (trembling, stiffness and lack of movement).

However, this combination does not always have to mean that the person has Parkinson's disease. It is also found in so-called parkinsonoid syndromes.

If the shaking hands were an expression of an overactive thyroid, one could observe an increased energy expenditure in the affected person, the heart would probably beat with a slightly increased heart rate and there would be an increased tendency to sweat.

Do you also suffer from dizziness? Then also read: Dizziness and tremors

Back pain with trembling hands?

Scientifically, no connections between trembling hands in adolescents and simultaneous back pain could be established.
However, both symptoms may appear independently.

Do you or your child suffer from back pain? Then read more here:

  • Back pain
  • Back pain during the growth spurt


Dizziness is a relatively nonspecific symptom and could be related to the shaky hands of adolescence from a number of different sources.

  • For example, drug side effects would be conceivable.

The drug against the so-called essential tremor mainly causes a drop in blood pressure. If this attack is too big, the brain may no longer be supplied with enough blood and dizziness may appear as a warning symptom of the body.

  • Parkinsonoid syndromes are also known, some of which are associated with impaired perception of balance.

If the dizziness persists, it should be clarified by a doctor. He may or may not have to do with the trembling hands.

Also read: Dizziness and tremors

Treatment / therapy

Since trembling hands in adolescence cannot be attributed to a single illness, the respective therapies also differ.

  • If the withdrawal from alcohol or drugs is the reason for the shakiness, you can try to reduce the dose of the remedy in small steps so that the body slowly gets used to normal again and the withdrawal is not that difficult. However, this differs from drug to drug and requires competent advice from the competent specialist.
  • An overactive thyroid is usually treated with a drug intervention in the self-regulation system of the thyroid. Only in extremely rare cases, when conservative measures are unsuccessful, may surgery be indicated to remove the thyroid gland. Thereafter, however, thyroid hormones must be substituted for life.
  • An essential tremor is also treated with medication. This is mainly done with drugs that affect blood pressure; but have also proven themselves in the treatment of essential tremor.
  • If the tremor is caused by a dopamine deficiency - as is the case with Parkinson's - the dopamine is also supplied.

Duration / forecast

If the reasons for the trembling hands are actual illnesses, in most cases they actually last for life.

An autoimmune disease, an overactive thyroid, Parkinson's disease and an essential tremor cannot be cured causally, but only treated symptomatically. Since Parkinson's almost never occurs in adolescence, this clinical picture should be excluded when it is said that a normal life expectancy is associated with both an essential tremor and an overactive thyroid.

The shakiness due to withdrawal symptoms, on the other hand, is more of a short-term duration and disappears again after the withdrawal.

Course of disease

The disease progression is usually benign and enables normal life expectancy.

Exceptions to this apply, for example, to Parkinson's disease or tremors due to a brain tumor. However, both causes are extremely rare and are only responsible for the tremors in exceptional cases.
An overactive thyroid can be treated very well and hardly leads to noticeably negative consequences of the disease, provided the medication is well adapted. The same applies to the essential tremor.It is not a reason for a premature death, but can also be controlled well with medication.