Acute vs Chronic: Difference and Comparison

The human body is complex, and so is maintaining a healthy body free from any disease. Various types of medical conditions happen to our bodies and have different reasons for that.

Some are very serious, whereas Some are not serious and harmful. Not every medical condition has instant medications available; some take days for symptoms to control.

Medical conditions are categorized into two types: Acute and Chronic. They both have different reasons and treatments.

Key Takeaways

  1. Acute conditions develop suddenly and last for a short period, whereas chronic conditions persist for extended periods or even a lifetime.
  2. Acute conditions resolve with treatment, while chronic conditions may require ongoing management and care.
  3. Acute conditions can sometimes become chronic if left untreated or not managed properly.

Acute vs Chronic

The difference between Acute and Chronic disease is that Acute disease appears suddenly and stays for a shorter period of time, whereas chronic diseases appear gradually and slowly and also stay for a longer period of time. Acute diseases are not harmful and are mainly caused by foreign or infectious agents, whereas Chronic diseases are harmful in nature but not communicable.

Acute vs Chronic

Acute diseases are medical conditions that appear suddenly and recover quickly, also with the right type of medications.

Acute diseases are temporary, and they don’t have long-lasting duration. They stay for a shorter period of time and also do not have harmful effects on health.

Some of examples of Acute diseases are Typhoid, jaundice, burns, broken bones, etc.

Chronic diseases are medical conditions having the nature of appearing slowly and gradually that stay for a longer period of time. They are not temporary and also harmful in the long run.

The potential causes for chronic conditions are unhealthy diet and lifestyle that can cause many problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, headache, etc.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAcuteChronic
DefinitionConditions that have a severe and rapid onset and stay for a lesser period of time are known as Acute diseases.Conditions that occur for a longer period of time and have long-lasting consequences.
CausesThese can be due to many reasons such as wrong medications, accidents, the presence of foreign agents, etc.There is no such specific reason, but an unhealthy lifestyle and diet can result in Chronic diseases.
EffectsThey don’t have harmful or dangerous and long-lasting effects.They are likely to be dangerous, harmful, and negative effects on the health
AppearanceThey have a very fast and sudden appearance.They are very slow and gradual in nature and appearance.
NatureDue to infectious agents, they are mainly communicable in nature.They are non-communicable in nature because they don’t have any reasons such as infectious agents.

What is Acute?

Acute illness is a medical condition that has a very sudden onset, and its duration is not long-lasting but short. They appear suddenly and get worse with time also, but are not harmful and dangerous.

They can be treated with the right medications. They require short-term care and urgent attention.

They get better once treated rightly.

They are caused mainly because of any infectious foreign agents such as a virus in the body or wrong medications etc. They are thus communicable in nature.

The symptoms are recognizable, and the treatment is not very tough. Mostly they appear suddenly and recover easily.

Though they have a shorter time period, they get worsened if not treated right. For example, when someone gets cold, sometimes it gets cured on its own or just by drinking warm water.

Some examples of acute illness and acute pain are childbirth, labour, burns or cuts, surgery, etc.

What is Chronic?

Chronic diseases are medical conditions that are harmful and dangerous for us. They have a longer duration and don’t have a sudden onset.

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They appear slowly and gradually, and thus effects are also long-lasting. They are sometimes hard to treat, and the cure can take a lot of time.

The potential reasons for chronic diseases are unhealthy lifestyles which result in long-term diseases. 

They can be controlled by following these:

  • Engaging ourselves in physical works and activities.
  • Having a proper and balanced diet
  • Less or no consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • No smoking

Chronic diseases take time to recover, and not following the proper diet and a little bit of carelessness can lead to delayed recoveries.

They are very stressful, and thus the stress also plays a part in delaying the recovery process.

Main Differences Between Acute and Chronic

  1. Acute diseases last for a shorter period of time, whereas chronic diseases are very long-lasting and stay for a longer duration.
  2. Acute diseases appear suddenly, whereas Chronic diseases appear very slowly and gradually.
  3. Acute diseases are caused by the reasons such as infectious agents, wrong medications, or accidents, whereas Chronic diseases can be caused due to unhealthy lifestyles or diets, and moreover, no exact reasons are there.
  4. Acute is communicable in nature because foreign agents can cause it, whereas Chronic diseases have no such reasons, and thus they are not communicable diseases.
  5. Acute diseases have no such harmful and dangerous effects, whereas Chronic diseases have harmful, long-lasting and negative effects.
  6. Acute diseases’ symptoms are they appear suddenly and become worse also, whereas Chronic diseases don’t necessarily show any symptoms.
  7. Some examples of Acute diseases are fractures, typhoid, cholera, etc., whereas some examples of chronic diseases are diabetes, cancer, etc.
Difference Between Acute and Chronic 1
References
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/art.37840
  2. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001133/abstract

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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12 thoughts on “Acute vs Chronic: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article about acute and chronic diseases is very helpful and comprehensive. I think it will be beneficial to a wide audience.

    Reply
  2. This article is very informative, it describes in a very easy-to-understand way the difference between acute and chronic diseases and how they are treated in very different ways.

    Reply

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