Introduction: Physical symptoms and frailty are common in older adults. A previous study has reported that multiple somatic symptoms are associated with frailty. In this study, we aimed to describe the picture of physical symptoms in older adults in western China and examine the relationship of multiple physical symptoms and frailty, as well as the sex difference of this relationship. Methods: Cross-sectional analyses were based on the West China Health and Aging Trend (WCHAT) study comprising 4,106 community-dwelling older adults (60–95 years). Frailty was assessed using the physical frailty phenotype (PFP). Participants’ experience of 28 different physical symptoms in the past 4 weeks was assessed. Physical symptoms were divided into several categories according to organ systems. Multinomial logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the association between frailty and multiple physical symptoms. Results: Nearly half of the subjects reported experiencing at least 1 physical symptom during the past 4 weeks. Musculoskeletal symptoms were the most prevalent symptoms. More than 5 physical symptoms were more likely to be frailty, even when all covariates were controlled. A significant association between multiple musculoskeletal symptoms and frailty also was found after adjusted for all covariates and multiple symptoms of other organ systems. Similar results were obtained for multiple cardiopulmonary symptoms. Furthermore, there were sex differences in these relationships. Conclusion: Multiple physical symptoms appear to have a detrimental impact on frailty in older adults. Compared with counting total symptoms, multiple symptoms of the same organ system may have a greater impact on frailty. Effective interventions and management of multiple physical symptoms are warranted to prevent frailty.

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