WASHINGTON, D.C.—The natural history of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and overactive bladder (OAB) may involve as much remission as progression, according to a new longitudinal study presented at the American Urological Association (AUA) 2011 Annual Meeting.

Carol L. Link, PhD, of New England Research Institutes, Watertown, Mass., and her colleagues examined the magnitude of both progression and remission of common urologic symptoms using data from 4,145 participants in the Boston Area Community Health (BACH) cohort survey. At baseline (2002-2005), participants were aged 30-79 years. The group consisted of 1,610 men, 2,535 women, and was racially mixed.  The average follow-up was 4.8 years (2006-2010).

The researchers assessed LUTS using the AUA Symptom Index, categorizing LUTS as none, mild, moderate or severe. They classified involuntary urine leakage as none, less than weekly, or one or more times per week; painful bladder syndrome as no pain, some pain, pain as bladder fills and/or pain relieved by urination for at least three months; and OAB as none (no frequency, urgency, or urge leakage), some frequency or urgency, or urge leakage.

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For each urologic symptom, the researchers observed that there is often as much remission as progression. For example, 25.7% of women reported remission in overall OAB symptoms, and 15.8% of men reported remission in overall LUTS. The probability of remission was generally higher in the respondents with more symptoms at baseline, and the probability of progression was often highest for those with no symptoms at baseline, according to the investigators. 

The researchers concluded that “the transitory nature of urologic symptoms for many people suggests a cautious approach in the use of therapeutic interventions with life-changing consequences.”