Purpose We compare the systemic (nonurological) symptoms between patients with overactive bladder and subjects without overactive bladder. We also compare the urinary symptoms, quality of life and psychosocial measures between the 2 subgroups of patients with overactive bladder with a high vs low systemic symptom burden. Materials and Methods Patients diagnosed with overactive bladder (51) and age matched individuals without overactive bladder (30) were administered the polysymptomatic, polysyndromic questionnaire to assess the numbers and distribution of systemic symptoms across multiple organ systems. Validated instruments were administered to evaluate urinary symptoms (ICIQ-UI, ICIQ-OAB, OAB-q, USS), quality of life (UDI-6, IIQ-7, OAB-q) and psychosocial difficulties (depression, anxiety, stress, sexual trauma, sleep, fatigue). Patients with overactive bladder were divided into 2 subgroups (with and without widespread systemic symptoms) and their responses were compared. Results Patients with overactive bladder reported significantly more systemic (nonurological) symptoms compared to controls (mean ± SD 17.5 ± 12.3 vs 6.4 ± 7.9 symptoms, p <0.001). Differences were observed across multiple organ systems (neurologic, cardiopulmonary, gastrointestinal, sexual, musculoskeletal and gynecologic, p <0.05). About a third of patients with overactive bladder (31.4%) reported widespread systemic symptoms across multiple organ systems (mean 32.0 symptoms). The presence of widespread systemic symptoms among patients with overactive bladder was correlated with worse incontinence/overactive bladder symptoms (ICIQ-UI, OAB-q), poorer quality of life (UDI-6, IIQ-7, OAB-q) and more psychosocial difficulties (depression, anxiety, fatigue and higher stress, p <0.05). Conclusions The increased presence of nonurological symptoms in overactive bladder suggests an underlying systemic etiology and pathogenetic mechanisms that may contribute to overactive bladder. This study highlights the importance of understanding systemic factors in urological conditions otherwise thought to be organ specific.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • comorbidity
  • psychosomatic medicine
  • signs and symptoms
  • urinary bladder, overactive
  • urinary incontinence


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