I noticed my hands have been shaky lately. Is something wrong?
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I noticed my hands have been shaky lately. Is something wrong?

Most likely, no. Everyone has a slight unsteadiness in the hands, which is called physiologic tremor. These normal vibrations can sometimes worsen, however, if you're downing too much coffee or are extra stressed (blame adrenaline). Skipping meals and taking certain types of medication may also exacerbate the shakes.

It's also possible you have essential tremor, a harmless (but frustrating) condition that can show up in your 40s and 50s. About half of the people with this problem—linked to miscommunications in the brain—have a family member who has it. Prescription medications can help, but many people do fine without them.

Rarely, tremor can be the first sign of a neurological disorder, like Parkinson's or multiple sclerosis. If you're jittery when your hand is at rest and you notice balance or coordination problems, see your doctor for a neurological exam. Barring a serious issue, your only Rx will be to get a grip on stress and cut back on your java intake.

Health's medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.