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Difference Between Acute and Chronic Disease

Last updated date: 12th Apr 2024
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An Introduction to Acute and Chronic Disease

In general, the course and duration of acute and chronic illnesses vary. In general, acute diseases (like the flu) are short-lived, occur unexpectedly, and have immediate or rapidly manifesting symptoms. Chronic illnesses last for a very long time. They progress and could get worse with time (such as with Crohn's disease).

Although many recently diagnosed diseases have acute symptoms, acute does not necessarily imply new. It also does not imply that the symptoms are severe. It simply signifies that symptoms have appeared suddenly and that a medical procedure is necessary.

Likewise, the term "chronic" should not be interpreted as "fatal" or "something that will necessarily shorten your life." It merely implies that the problem cannot be cured. Chronic illnesses like diabetes or high blood pressure can frequently be controlled.

What is acute and chronic disease reaction?

Acute disease: A sickness that develops very quickly but normally goes away within a month is referred to as an acute disease. The opposite of this condition is a chronic disease.

Common colds and the flu are two very obvious acute illnesses, but other acute infections can develop symptoms that are more severe and cause difficulties with certain organ systems. The digestive, respiratory, ocular, skin, liver, kidney, and bladder systems can all be included in this.

These extremely typical signs of acute illnesses include:

  • Throat pain

  • Rancid nose

  • Fever

  • Sneezing

  • Cough

  • Diarrhea

  • Discomfort in the ear

  • Headache

  • Rash

  • Nausea

Chronic disease: A chronic condition persists for many months, years, or even a lifetime. As you become older, chronic sickness frequently becomes more of a problem. This is especially true if you have bad habits like smoking, being inactive, or consuming a lot of junk food.

According to the Center for Disease Control, chronic diseases account for 86% of the expense of healthcare in the United States and are the cause of 7 out of 10 fatalities each year.

The following are a few of the most prevalent chronic illnesses:

  • Diabetes 

  • Heart Attack

  • Cancer

  • Obesity

  • Arthritis

  • Stroke

Acute and Chronic Disease Reactions Examples

Examples of Acute Illness

Broken bones, diseases like urinary tract infections or pink eye, and viruses like the flu and rotavirus are some instances of acute illnesses. Some acute illnesses might occasionally worsen and require medical attention. This could involve abrupt hepatic and renal failure as well as pancreatitis, pneumonia, and appendicitis.

Examples of Chronic Illness

Most of the time, it is simple to detect and treat acute illnesses, but it might be difficult to do so with chronic ones. For instance, when arthritis first begins to develop, a person may have pain and a few stiff joints. These symptoms may get more severe and stiffer with time, making it challenging for you to move about freely or do your everyday duties.

Initially, diabetes symptoms like frequent urination or thirst may not be as severe as they eventually become. Many patients have absolutely no symptoms. But as the illness advances, several consequences may materialize if they are not accurately identified and treated. Examples include excessive blood pressure, kidney illness, and neuropathy.

Difference Between Acute and Chronic Disease 



Acute disease

Chronic disease



These illnesses develop suddenly.

They take place gradually over time.



The body suffers immediate damage as a result.

The patient's body suffers long-term damage as a result.



They exist for less time.

They endure longer, perhaps even a lifetime.



The beginning is abrupt and frequently curable. The course of the disease, however, can also be impacted by additional underlying problems.

Because they progress slowly, chronic illnesses frequently cause long-term harm to organs and organ systems. In exceptional circumstances, it might even become fatal.



A few examples include cholera, the common cold,  malaria, typhoid, and jaundice.

For instance, diabetes, cancer, TB, arthritis, etc.


Acute illnesses sometimes develop suddenly and last for a short time, frequently just a few days or weeks. Chronic conditions may take months or years to manifest and may worsen during that period. Of course, there are more differences than simply that. One should be aware that both these conditions do not always prove fatal and the symtpoms can be managed or completely cured depending on whether the condition is chronic or acute.

FAQs on Difference Between Acute and Chronic Disease

1. What are the characteristics of acute diseases?

Acute disorders develop quickly, have recognizable symptoms, necessitate immediate medical attention, or both, and improve after treatment. For instance, a fractured bone sustained in a fall requires medical attention and will eventually heal. Colds and other acute infections may simply go away on their own. Patients with severe illnesses typically make a full recovery. When your health improves if you were hospitalized for an acute illness, you'll probably be ready to go home.

2. What are the causes of chronic diseases?

The leading causes of death and disability worldwide are chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. They are also the leading causes of the country's $4.1 trillion in annual healthcare costs. Key risk behaviors are what cause the majority of chronic diseases:

  • Use of tobacco and being around smoke.

  • Poor nutrition, including meals heavy in salt and saturated fats and deficient in fruits and vegetables.

  • Inactivity in the body.

  • Excessive drinking.

3. What is the difference between Acute and Chronic diseases?

Acute conditions manifest suddenly and severely. Anything from a shattered bone to an asthma attack could be described in this way. In contrast, a chronic condition is a syndrome that has lasted a long time, like osteoporosis or asthma. Be aware that the acute condition of a broken bone may result from the chronic disease of osteoporosis. Even though asthma is a chronic condition, acute asthma attacks can still happen. Untreated acute diseases, like a first asthma attack, can develop into chronic syndromes.