Shaking legs and dizziness

Shaking legs and dizziness DEFAULT

What Causes Leg Shaking (Tremors)?

Is this cause for concern?

An uncontrollable shaking in your legs is called a tremor. Shaking isn’t always a cause for worry. Sometimes it’s simply a temporary response to something that’s stressing you out, or there’s no obvious cause.

When a condition is causing shaking, you’ll usually have other symptoms. Here’s what to watch for and when to see your doctor.

1. Restless leg syndrome (RLS)

Tremors can feel like RLS. The two conditions aren’t the same, but it’s possible to have tremors and RLS together.

A tremor is simply a shaking in your leg or other body part. Moving the affected limb doesn’t relieve the shaking.

By contrast, RLS makes you feel an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. Often this feeling strikes at night, and it can rob you of sleep.

In addition to shaking, RLS causes a crawling, throbbing, or itching sensation in your legs. You can relieve the twitchy feeling by moving.

2. Genetics

A type of shaking called essential tremor may be passed down through families. If your mother or father has a gene mutation that causes essential tremor, you have a high chance of getting this condition later in life.

Essential tremor usually affects the hands and arms. Less often, the legs can shake, too.

Scientists haven’t yet discovered which genes cause essential tremor. They believe a combination of a few genetic mutations and environmental exposures may increase your risk of developing this condition.

3. Concentration

Some people subconsciously bounce their foot or leg while focusing on a task — and it may actually serve a useful purpose.

Research in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) suggests that repetitive movements improve concentration and attention.

The shaking could help distract the part of your brain that’s bored. With that part of your brain occupied, the rest of your brain can focus on the task at hand.

4. Boredom

Shaking legs can also signal that you’re bored. The shaking releases tension that’s stored up when you’re forced to sit through a long lecture or a dull meeting.

Constant bouncing in your leg might also be a motor tic. Tics are uncontrollable, quick movements that give you a feeling of relief.

Some tics are temporary. Others can be signs of a chronic disorder like Tourette syndrome, which also includes vocal tics.

5. Anxiety

When you’re anxious, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Your heart pumps out extra blood to your muscles, readying them to run or engage. Your breath comes faster and your mind becomes more alert.

Hormones like adrenaline fuel the fight-or-flight response. These hormones can also make you shaky and jittery.

Along with shaking, anxiety can trigger symptoms like:

  • a pounding heart
  • nausea
  • unsteady breathing
  • sweating or chills
  • dizziness
  • a feeling of impending danger
  • overall weakness

6. Caffeine and other stimulants

Caffeine is a stimulant. A cup of coffee can wake you up in the morning and makes you feel more alert. But drinking too much may make you jittery.

The recommended amount of caffeine is milligrams per day. This is equivalent to three or four cups of coffee.

Stimulant drugs called amphetamines also cause shaking as a side effect. Some stimulants treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Others are sold illegally and used recreationally.

Other symptoms of caffeine or stimulant overload include:

  • a fast heartbeat
  • insomnia
  • restlessness
  • dizziness
  • sweating

7. Alcohol

Drinking alcohol alters levels of dopamine and other chemicals in your brain.

Over time, your brain becomes accustomed to these changes and more tolerant to alcohol’s effects. That’s why people who drink heavily must drink increasingly larger amounts of alcohol to produce the same effects.

When someone who drinks heavily suddenly stops using alcohol, they may develop withdrawal symptoms. Tremors are one symptom of withdrawal.

Others symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • anxiety
  • headache
  • a fast heartbeat
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • insomnia
  • nightmares
  • hallucinations
  • seizures

If you or someone you know is experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, seek medical attention.

8. Medication

Tremor is a side effect of drugs that affect your nervous system and muscles.

Drugs that are known to cause shaking include:

Stopping the drug should also stop the shaking. However, you should never discontinue prescribed medications without your doctor’s approval.

Your doctor can explain how to wean yourself off of the medication, if needed, and prescribe an alternative medication.

9. Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can cause shaking. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate your body’s metabolism. Too much of these hormones send your body into overdrive.

Other symptoms include:

  • a fast heartbeat
  • increased appetite
  • anxiety
  • weight loss
  • sensitivity to heat
  • changes in menstrual periods
  • insomnia


ADHD is a brain disorder that makes it hard to sit still and pay attention. People with this condition have one or more of these three symptom types:

  • trouble paying attention (inattention)
  • acting without thinking (impulsivity)
  • overactivity (hyperactivity)

Shaking is a symptom of hyperactivity. People who are hyperactive may also:

  • have trouble sitting still or waiting their turn
  • run around a lot
  • talk constantly

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s is a brain disease that affects movement. It’s caused by damage to nerve cells that produce the chemical dopamine. Dopamine normally keeps movements smooth and coordinated.

Shaking in the hands, arms, legs, or head is one common symptom of Parkinson’s disease.

Other symptoms include:

  • slowed walking and other movements
  • stiffness of the arms and legs
  • impaired balance
  • poor coordination
  • difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • trouble speaking

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

MS is a disease that damages the protective covering of nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Damage to these nerves interrupts the transmission of messages to and from the brain and body.

Which MS symptoms you have depends on which nerves are damaged. Damage to nerves that control muscle movement (motor nerves) can cause tremors.

Other symptoms may include:

  • numbness or weakness on one side of the body
  • double vision
  • vision loss
  • tingling or electric shock sensations
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • slurred speech
  • bladder or bowel problems

Nerve damage

Damage to the nerves that control muscle movement can make you shake. A number of conditions cause nerve damage, including:

Other symptoms of nerve damage include:

  • pain
  • numbness
  • a pins-and-needles or tingling sensation
  • burning

Types of tremors

Doctors classify tremors by their cause and how they affect people.

  • Essential tremors. This is one of the most common types of movement disorders. The trembling typically affects the arms and hands, but any part of the body can shake.
  • Dystonic tremors. This tremor affects people with dystonia, a condition in which faulty messages from the brain cause the muscles to overreact. Symptoms range from shaking to unusual postures.
  • Cerebellar tremors. These tremors involve slow movements on one side of the body. The shaking starts after you initiate a movement, like going to shake hands with someone. Cerebellar tremors are caused by a stroke, tumor, or other condition that damages the cerebellum.
  • Psychogenic tremors. This type of tremor starts suddenly, often during stressful periods. It usually involves the arms and legs, but it can affect any body part.
  • Physiologic tremors. Everyone shakes a little bit when they move or stay in one pose for a while. These movements are perfectly normal and are usually too small to notice.
  • Parkinsonian tremors. Tremor is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease. The shaking starts while you’re at rest. It may only affect one side of your body.
  • Orthostatic tremors. People with orthostatic tremors experience a very fast shaking in their legs when they stand up. Sitting down relieves the tremor.

Treatment options

Some tremors are temporary and unrelated to an underlying condition. These tremors typically don’t require treatment.

If the tremor persists, or you’re experiencing other symptoms, it may be tied to an underlying condition. In this case, treatment depends on what condition is causing the shaking.

Your doctor may recommend:

  • Practicing stress management techniques. Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can help control shaking from stress and anxiety.
  • Avoiding triggers. If caffeine sets off your shaking, avoiding coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate, and other foods and drinks that contain it can stop this symptom.
  • Massage. A massage can help relieve stress. Research also suggests it may help treat shaking due to essential tremor and .
  • Stretching. Yoga — an exercise program that combines deep breathing with stretches and poses — can help control tremors in people with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Medication. Treating the underlying condition, or taking a medication like an antiseizure drug, beta-blocker, or tranquilizer, can help calm tremors.
  • Surgery. If other treatments aren’t working, your doctor may recommend deep brain stimulation or another surgery to relieve tremors.

When to see your doctor

Occasional leg shaking probably isn’t any cause for concern. But if the tremor is constant and it interferes with your daily life, see your doctor.

Also see your doctor if any of these symptoms occur alongside shaking:

  • confusion
  • difficulty standing or walking
  • trouble controlling your bladder or bowels
  • dizziness
  • vision loss
  • sudden and unexplained weight loss

Why do I feel shaky, weak, and tired? What can I do about it?

Several medical conditions can make a person feel weak, shaky, and tired. Dehydration, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome, among other conditions, are associated with these symptoms.

Treatment will depend on the condition a person has.

Keep reading to learn about the conditions associated with these symptoms, as well as some home remedies that may help.

Causes of sudden onset

The following factors can cause a sudden onset of weakness, shakiness, or tiredness:

  • Hypoglycemia: In this condition, blood sugar drops below . It often occurs when a person with diabetes takes more insulin or medication than they need to lower their blood sugar.
  • Low blood pressure: This occurs when a person has a blood pressure lower than . When this happens, the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries is too low. Causes include bleeding, heart problems, pregnancy, and aging.
  • Too much caffeine: Healthy adults can usually safely consume of caffeine per day, but higher doses can be harmful. However, some people are more sensitive to caffeine, so they may experience negative effects — such as shakiness, weakness, and tiredness — at lower doses.
  • Dehydration: This occurs when a person loses more fluids than they take in. Causes include nausea, vomiting, fever, loss of appetite, and profuse sweating.
  • Medications: Some drugs may produce these symptoms.

Associated medical conditions

Several medical conditions can involve feeling weak, shaky, and tired. The following sections will look at some of these in more detail.

Irregular heart rhythm

Doctors call an irregular heart rhythm an arrhythmia. This means that the heart beats too fast, too slowly, or erratically.

When the heart rate is abnormal, the heart cannot pump blood effectively, which can cause weakness and tiredness.

Arrhythmias can be harmless or life threatening, according to the .


Tremors involve rhythmic, involuntary muscle contractions that lead to shaking in one or more parts of the body.

Although they affect the hands most frequently, they may also affect the legs, arms, torso, or head, say the .

Tremors may occur at any age, but they tend to affect middle-aged and older adults more often.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious, long-term condition that involves many systems of the body.

Symptoms include severe tiredness, sleep problems, and difficulty thinking.

According to the , people with this condition are often unable to perform their everyday activities.

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is a brain condition that causes shaking, stiffness, and balance problems. It usually starts gradually and worsens over time, according to the .

As it progresses, individuals may experience tiredness, memory loss, and depression. The NIA say that the condition affects 50% more men than women.

Home remedies

Feeling weak, shaky, and tired may be due to a number of conditions or other factors.

Some causes may be easy to treat. For example, since too much caffeine can sometimes cause these effects, a person may wish to reduce their intake of caffeinated beverages to see if it helps reduce the symptoms.

Dehydration is another condition that a person can treat easily.

The explain that the easiest way for a person to know if they are getting enough fluids is to look at their urine. If it is pale and clear, they are probably not dehydrated.

On the other hand, if the urine is dark, it may be a sign that they need to increase their fluid intake. The AHA note that water is the most healthy beverage for rehydrating.

Another way to reduce tiredness and weakness is to eat a nutritious diet. This increases energy, improves general health, and reduces the risk of developing serious medical conditions, according to the .

Here are a few tips from the on how to eat a nutritious diet:

  • Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products.
  • Include high protein foods, such as fish, poultry, lean meat, beans, nuts, and eggs.
  • Avoid or limit foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, salt, and sugar.
  • Aim for a daily calorie intake that falls within the recommendations.

If a person has difficulty eating enough, they may benefit from eating small, frequent meals rather than three larger meals per day. When snacking, try choosing a nutritious food, such as fruit, instead of chips or candy.

Physical activity also offers excellent health benefits and can help a person feel stronger. People should try to get of moderate intensity exercise per week, according to the AHA. However, an individual should always check with their doctor before starting any exercise program.


If the symptoms persist or get worse, even after a person makes some lifestyle modifications to improve their general health, they should contact a doctor.

Several medical conditions may cause these symptoms, so getting medical attention can help a person get a specific diagnosis.

To receive a diagnosis, a person may need to undergo blood tests and other laboratory tests or procedures. Afterward, a doctor may prescribe medications or other treatment types that are appropriate for the person’s condition.

For instance, if someone’s symptoms are due to hypoglycemia associated with diabetes, a doctor can adjust their dosage of insulin or other drugs. Likewise, if an individual’s symptoms stem from tremors, taking antiseizure medications may reduce them.

The best way to determine the cause is to contact a doctor.


Feeling weak, shaky, and tired may be due to something that is easy to treat.

For example, if the symptoms stem from dehydration, drinking more water should resolve the problem. Likewise, some chronic conditions that cause these symptoms might improve when a person engages in healthy lifestyle habits.

However, some other conditions, such as tremors, may need medical treatment.

If a person experiences ongoing symptoms, they should consider talking with a doctor.

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What Causes Dizziness and Fatigue? 9 Possible Causes


Dizziness is a word that describes the sensation of spinning while being off-balance. To explain to your doctor exactly how you feel, you can use these more specific terms:

  • disequilibrium is when you feel unsteady
  • lightheaded means you feel faint or woozy
  • vertigo is a spinning sensation when you aren’t moving

Many different conditions can make you feel both dizzy and tired. Sometimes these symptoms are temporary, or they might come and go. If you often feel dizzy and tired, see your doctor for a diagnosis. Untreated dizziness and fatigue can cause a fall. It can also increase your risk of getting into an accident while driving.

1. Low blood sugar

Your body needs sugar, also known as glucose, for energy. When your blood sugar level drops, you can become dizzy, shaky, and tired.

Low blood sugar is often a side effect of insulin and other drugs used to treat diabetes. These drugs lower blood sugar, but if the dose isn’t right your blood sugar can drop too much.

You can also get hypoglycemia if you don’t have diabetes. It can occur if you haven’t eaten in a while or if you drink alcohol without eating.

Other symptoms of low blood sugar are:

  • fast heartbeat
  • sweating
  • shaking
  • hunger
  • irritability
  • confusion

A fast-acting source of carbohydrates can relieve low blood sugar. Drink a glass of fruit juice or suck on a hard candy. Follow that up with a more nourishing meal to raise your blood sugar levels. If you often get hypoglycemia, you might need to adjust your diabetes medicine. Or you could eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This will help keep your blood sugar level steady.

2. Low blood pressure

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against blood vessel walls as it circulates through your body. When your blood pressure drops you can have symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness, and fatigue. Other symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • thirst
  • blurred vision
  • fast and shallow breathing
  • pale, clammy skin
  • trouble concentrating

The following conditions can cause your blood pressure to drop:

  • heart problems
  • medications
  • serious injury
  • dehydration
  • vitamin deficiencies

Treating these issues can bring your blood pressure back up to normal. Other ways to increase low blood pressure are:

  • adding more salt to your diet
  • drinking more water to increase your blood volume
  • wearing support stockings

3. Anemia

Red blood cells carry oxygen to all your organs and tissues. When you have anemia, your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells, or these cells don’t work well enough. A lack of oxygen can make you feel dizzy or tired.

Other signs of anemia are:

  • shortness of breath
  • weakness
  • fast or uneven heartbeat
  • headache
  • cold hands or feet
  • pale skin
  • chest pain

Bleeding, nutrient deficiencies, and bone marrow failure are all possible causes of anemia.

4. Migraine headaches

Migraines are intense, throbbing headaches that last from a few hours to a few days. Along with the headache, you may experience symptoms that include:

  • vision changes, such as seeing flashing lights and colors
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sensitivity to light and sound
  • lightheadedness
  • fatigue

People who get migraines can experience dizziness and vertigo, even when they don’t have a headache. The vertigo can last for a few minutes to a few hours.

Avoiding migraine triggers like alcohol, caffeine, and dairy foods is one way to prevent these headaches. You can also take migraine medicines, which come in two forms:

  • Preventive medicines like antidepressants and antiseizure drugs prevent a migraine before it starts.
  • Abortive medicines like NSAID pain relievers and triptans relieve migraines once they start.

Learn more: The differences between migraines and headaches »

5. Medications

Certain medicines can cause dizziness and fatigue as side effects. These include:

  • antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac) and trazodone (Desyrel)
  • antiseizure drugs such as divalproex (Depakote), gabapentin (Neurontin, Active-PAC with Gabapentin), and pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • blood pressure lowering drugs, such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and diuretics
  • muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine (Fexmid, Flexeril) and metaxalone (Skelaxin)
  • sleeping pills such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Unisom, Sominex), temazepam (Restoril), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zolpidem (Ambien)

If you’re on one of these medicines and it’s making you dizzy or tired, ask your doctor if you can lower the dose or switch to another drug.

6. Abnormal heart rhythms

Normally, your heart beats in a familiar “lub-dub” rhythm. When you have an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, your heart beats too slow or too fast. It might also skip beats.

Besides dizziness and fatigue, other symptoms of an arrhythmia include:

  • fainting
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain

Your doctor can treat heart rhythm problems with drugs like blood thinners or blood pressure medicines. Avoid substances like caffeine, alcohol, and cold medicines. These things can make your heart go out of rhythm.

7. Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition that causes overwhelming tiredness, even after you’ve slept well. Symptoms of CFS include dizziness and trouble keeping your balance.

You might also have symptoms that include:

  • sleep problems
  • trouble remembering and concentrating
  • muscle or joint pain
  • headache
  • allergies and sensitivities to foods, medicines, or other substances

CFS can be hard to treat because it’s different for everyone. Your doctor will treat your individual symptoms with therapies like medicine and counseling.

8. Vestibular neuronitis

An infection like a cold or the flu can inflame the vestibular nerve in your inner ear. This nerve sends sensory messages to your brain to keep you upright and balanced. Swelling of the vestibular nerve can cause dizziness and vertigo. You might also feel fatigued.

Other symptoms of vestibular neuronitis include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • trouble concentrating
  • blurred vision

A virus usually causes vestibular neuritis. Antibiotics won’t help, but the dizziness and other symptoms should improve within a few days.

9. Dehydration

Dehydration is when your body doesn’t have enough fluid. You can become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water. This is especially true while you’re outside in hot weather or exercising.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • little to no urine
  • confusion

To treat dehydration, drink fluids like water or an electrolyte solution like Gatorade. If you’re severely dehydrated, you may need to go to the hospital for intravenous (IV) fluids.

Seeking help

If you’ve had repeated episodes of dizziness and fatigue, see your doctor to find out what’s causing these symptoms. Call your doctor or go to an emergency room right away if you have more serious symptoms, such as:

  • fainting or loss of consciousness
  • seizures
  • blurred vision or vision loss
  • severe vomiting
  • heart palpitations
  • chest pain
  • confusion
  • high fever
  • trouble speaking


Your outlook depends on what condition is causing your dizziness and fatigue. If you have an infection, it should get better in a few days. Migraines and CFS are chronic. But you can manage them with medicines and other treatments.


In general, here are a few things you can do to prevent dizziness and fatigue:

To prevent a fall or accident when you’re feeling dizzy, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery. Stay seated or in bed until the dizziness passes.

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