Difference Between Acute and Chronic

By: | Updated: Feb-19, 2022
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When it comes to health, it is important to be aware of both acute and chronic conditions. By knowing the differences between these two types of conditions, patients can be better prepared to manage their own health and seek appropriate treatment when necessary.

In this article, we are going to talk about the differences between acute and chronic conditions.

Acute Chronic
Is a sudden onset of a condition. Is a long-term, often slowly progressing, condition.
Is less severe. Is more severe.
Diagnosed through a physical examination and laboratory tests. Diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests.
Treated with medications and/or surgery. Treated with medication, surgery, and/or lifestyle changes.
Only require care from a single healthcare provider. Requires ongoing care from multiple healthcare providers.
Easier to diagnose. Harder to diagnose.

Difference Between Acute and Chronic

People who have underlying diseases are probably familiar with the term acute and chronic. Acute is a sudden onset of a condition while chronic is a long-term, often slowly progressing, condition.

Acute is less severe than chronic. One example of an acute condition is the flu while chronic conditions include diabetes and heart disease.

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Acute conditions are often self-limiting, meaning that they will eventually go away on their own, while chronic conditions require ongoing treatment.

Acute conditions are typically diagnosed through a physical examination and laboratory tests, while chronic conditions are often diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests.

Acute conditions are typically treated with medications and/or surgery, while chronic conditions are often treated with medications, surgery, and/or lifestyle changes.

Patients with chronic conditions often require ongoing care from multiple healthcare providers, while patients with acute conditions typically only require care from a single healthcare provider. This is why chronic conditions are often more expensive to treat than acute conditions.

Acute conditions are also more common than chronic conditions. After all, people are more likely to experience a sudden onset of a condition than to have a long-term condition.

In cases where a patient has both an acute and a chronic condition, the acute condition is typically the more serious of the two. For example, a patient who has both the flu and diabetes would be more likely to experience problems from the flu than from diabetes where diabetes is a long-term condition, the flu is an acute condition.

Another point to consider is that acute conditions are often easier to diagnose than chronic conditions. This is because chronic conditions often develop slowly over time and patients may not always be aware that they have a problem.

Healthcare providers are more likely to order laboratory tests and perform other diagnostic procedures when a patient has an acute condition in order to determine the cause of the problem.

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