Adults with down’s syndrome have the same basic health care needs such as screening for diseases, immunisation and disease surveillance as everyone else. However, down’s syndrome patients are more likely to have a variety of illnesses, including thyroid disease, diabetes, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hearing loss, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord compression and sleep apnea. Therefore, they need to be screened for these conditions in addition to routine health screening.
Although individuals with down’s syndrome are at a higher risk of developing various diseases, there are no specific recommendations. Screening for these diseases must be done and necessary treatment should be provided.
An annual testicular examination in men may be prudent because of the higher prevalence of testicular cancer. Also, because the prevalence of abuse in patients with disabilities is higher than in the general population, screening for and counselling about abuse is essential. In addition, these patients should be counselled about diet, exercise, obesity, smoking, alcohol use, accident prevention and contraception.
Given the negative impact of the many health conditions they are at high risk of suffering from, timely discovery can help in these diseases. More studies that evaluate the implications of improved screening practices and timely detection of comorbidities on clinical outcomes in down’s syndrome are needed.
In a nutshell, healthcare for all adults and especially those with down’s syndrome should include screening for early detection of diseases and timely treatment. A person with down’s syndrome is at risk for many diseases, therefore regular check-ups can improve longevity. Also, psychological counselling and treatment may be needed if the person is diagnosed with mental health illnesses such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.
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