Abuse (Physical or
Both men and women with
Down syndrome are at higher risk for physical and sexual abuse than their non-disabled
peers. Nurses working with this population should be well-versed in the warning
signs of abuse, and should act immediately when abuse is suspected. Teaching
and counseling, tailored to the individuals cognitive level, can be highly
effective in averting abuse.
Obstructive sleep apnea
is seen in one out of every two adults with Down syndrome. It is not always
associated with obesity in this population, and may be related to low tone in
the airways and structural abnormalities. Its important for nurses to
report any symptoms of sleep apnea, including:
In some cases, surgery is indicated to avoid hypoxia and cor pulmonale. Other adults may benefit from supplemental oxygen under pressure, such as bi-pap or CPAP. Nurses working with these individuals can play a key role in promoting and reinforcing correct and regular use of these devices
In general, solid tumors
are less common in people with Down syndrome. However, men with Down syndrome
are at a higher risk for testicular cancer. If possible, they should be taught
to perform regular testicular self-examination and report abnormal results to
the health care provider. Annual testicular examinations by the health care
provider are also important. Nurses can encourage self-exams by setting up a
visual reminder system, ensuring that the client knows the correct procedure,
and following up on a regular basis.
with Down syndrome are at particular risk for testicular cancer, and many
can effectively perform testicular self-examination on a regular basis.
disease, orthodontic problems, and bruxism (tooth grinding) are more common
in individuals with Down syndrome than the general population, and often cause
tooth loss. However, dental caries are less common. Nurses can play an important
role by identifying and reporting early signs of periodontal disease, and encouraging
good dental hygiene and regular check-ups. Because many adults with Down syndrome
have motor impairments that can interfere with good oral hygiene, its
important to check periodically to see that the client is using proper techniques
for brushing and flossing.