By Tammy Dodderidge, International Essential Tremor Foundation
Is she nervous? Is she cold? Maybe she drank too much coffee. Could she be going through withdrawal? Maybe she’s just getting old.
These are some of the common misconceptions about people with essential tremor. This neurological disorder causes an involuntary shaking of the hands, head, voice, legs or trunk. It’s debilitating, frustrating, embarrassing and perhaps one of the most misunderstood health conditions. During National Essential Tremor Awareness (NETA) Month in March, the International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF) is working to raise awareness of essential tremor and to educate the public about the impact it has on an estimated 10 million people across the U.S.
Most Are Unfamiliar with Essential Tremor
A 2016 National Institutes of Health-funded study explored ET awareness in a sample group in order to measure public knowledge about it. The results showed that 85-90 percent of people surveyed had never heard of ET. This proves there is much work to be done!
Our theme for NETA Month is “Essential Tremor Has No Familiar Face.” We want the public to know how ET impacts people of all ages and races. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t play favorites. Mothers, fathers, teenagers, senior adults and even toddlers struggle with it. We hear from people all over the world who have been diagnosed.
Fortunately, ET is not life-threatening. But this doesn’t diminish the urgency for treatments that work for everyone. Calls and emails come into the IETF each week from those in our ET community who feel helpless and are desperate for some type of relief or miracle coping technique to make their lives easier. They want to be able to eat soup, button their clothes, read the paper and sign their name. One woman told me she wanted to be able to brush her teeth without poking herself in the eye. And then there are the parents who are trying to figure out how to answer their children when they ask, “Will I shake like that when I grow up?” Unfortunately, ET is hereditary, so those conversations are hard.
Be an Essential Tremor Advocate
We need everyone’s help in spreading our message to raise awareness of ET during March. Here’s how:
- Download our special NETA Month Facebook and Twitter banners.
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share our posts.
- Order one of our free NETA Month posters and display it at your work, school or another public area.
- Share this blog and watch the IETF’s blog site for others to share.
- Give a donation during NETA month. As a special incentive, those making a $30 donation will receive an NETA Month t-shirt and for a $50 donation, donors will receive a tote bag and t-shirt. Money raised through donations fund awareness programs and educational materials and tools, plus grants to fund ET research.
Do you know the face of someone with essential tremor? We all do. They are all around us. Help us raise awareness during National Essential Tremor Awareness Month.