The diagnosis will typically begin with the person’s medical history being taken. The physician will be looking not only for offending drugs (drugs prescribed for other medical conditions which can cause tremor as a side effect), but for signs and symptoms that may have previously been noted but for which no action has been taken. The physician will also ask about the family history.
While the diagnosis of ET remains a visual one, certain brain scans Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerised Tomography (CT) may be helpful in eliminating any other conditions which also produce tremor as a symptom. For example growths such as tumours or damage to the brain can be seen on certain brain scans. Blood samples may also be taken to rule out thyroid or copper metabolism problems, both of which can cause tremor. DATScan a diagnostic test can distinguish between ET and tremors of Parkinson's disease.
When all other possible causes of tremor have been ruled out, a diagnosis of essential tremor may then be considered - it is a clinical diagnosis and it is essential that those with tremor are seen, at least once, by a specialist with an interest and expertise.