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Difference Between Acute and Chronic

Acute vs Chronic

The difference between acute and chronic when used for diseases is that acute means extremely severe pain, brief and dangerous disease whereas chronic refers to a medical condition that lasts over a long period.

Chronic also means something always present and recurring or something habitual. Acute may refer to a geometrical angle that is less than ninety degrees and it is called an acute angle.

People often get confused with these terms acute and chronic in medical conditions. Usually, acute means sudden onset of a disease or injury whereas chronic diseases develop slowly and gradually. Acute condition happens when you cut yourself with a knife or catch a cold whereas chronic medical condition is when you suffer from pain and disease over an extended period of time. In an acute medical condition,a person may recover fast and and be relieved of the symptoms soon but in a chronic medical condition ,the disease may last a lifetime and it may take longer to get relief from the disease.

Acute injuries can become chronic medical conditions. For instance, if someone severely hurts his back, he can develop chronic backache pain.

Acute disease symptoms also last for a short time whereas chronic disease symptoms may take more than three months to subside eventually.

The term acute in diseases is not an indication of the severity of the disease. It is used to indicate the length or period of time the disease or pain lasted or how fast it developed. Some examples of acute diseases are bad throat and influenza whereas examples of chronic diseases that are persistent and may recur are kidney trouble, diabetis or cancer etc.

In some cases acute diseases resolve themselves whereas in the case of chronic disease the patient may have to be hospitalized or taken to the doctor often. Chronic Patients with chronic diseases are required to take prescribed medication for longer periods of time whereas patients with acute diseases may not require any medication at all. They can also get over -the -counter medicines to relieve pain and symptoms. Acute health effects can be reversed but chronic health effects are often known to be irreversible.


1. Acute pain starts suddenly which could be a result of injury or a certain medical condition such as a headache or toothache.
2. Chronic pain is slow growing process of pain developing in certain parts of body.
3. Acute pain diminishes quickly whereas chronic health conditions may last for the rest of one’s life.
4. Chronic patients need to be hospitalized often and have to stick to prescribed medications.
5. Acute patients may need no hospitalization and this health condition is often reversible. On the other hand, chronic medical conditions are often irreversible..

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