What Is The Difference between Acute and Chronic Disease (With Table)

So, what are the main difference between acute and chronic diseases? An acute disease is a condition that comes abruptly and lasts for a shorter period while chronic disease is a condition that persists for a longer period with lasting health effects. 

Many people usually get confused by the terms acute and chronic conditions. Some end up using these medical terms interchangeably without knowing. 

These medical conditions are quite different depending on the sources of references and people talking about them in real life. But these medical terms are applied in different circumstances.  This article provides chronic disease examples and acute disease examples. Take the time to read through the difference between acute disease and chronic disease in a tabular form. 

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 Difference between Acute and Chronic Disease (With Table)

Basic Terms

Acute Disease

Chronic Disease


It is a condition that occurs abruptly and lasts for a shorter period.

It is a disease that persists for a longer period with lasting health effects.



More gradually.


Shorter period

Longer period


Misuse of medication


Foreign agents

Unhealthy lifestyle and diet




Health Effect

No harmful effect

Harmful and long-lasting effects.


No relapse period

Multiple relapse period

Onset of Symptoms

Appear abruptly and worsen over a short period

Take a long time to appear.


Depend on the nature of the disease.

Extreme pain

Shortness of breath

Weight loss


Several tests are available.

Diagnosis tests not available.


Administration of drug dosage

No cure. But early detection can be treated to reduce pain severity.


Depend on the nature of the disease.

Balanced diet

Healthy lifestyle


Typhoid, Jaundice, Bone fracture, Burns, Heart attack, Cholera, etc.

Diabetes, Cancer, Tuberculosis, Arthritis, etc.

What Is Acute Disease?

An acute disease refers to a medical condition characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms that are typically severe and of short duration. These diseases often develop rapidly and exhibit pronounced and immediate symptoms. The term “acute” is used to describe the swift and intense nature of the illness rather than its chronic or prolonged course.

Acute diseases can affect various organ systems and may result from infections, injuries, or other sudden changes in health. Examples of acute diseases include influenza, pneumonia, appendicitis, and injuries such as fractures or acute allergic reactions. The duration of acute diseases can vary, but they are generally expected to resolve within a relatively short period, either with medical intervention or the body’s natural healing processes.

Prompt and effective medical attention is often crucial in managing acute diseases to alleviate symptoms, prevent complications, and promote a quicker recovery. In contrast to chronic conditions, which persist over an extended period, acute diseases are characterized by their rapid onset and often transient nature.

What Is Chronic Disease?

A chronic disease is a long-term medical condition that persists over an extended period, often lasting for months to years and sometimes for a person’s entire lifetime. Unlike acute diseases, which have a sudden onset and a relatively short duration, chronic diseases develop gradually and tend to be persistent. These conditions may result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Common examples of chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Chronic diseases often require ongoing medical management, and their symptoms may fluctuate in severity over time.

Management of chronic diseases typically involves a combination of medications, lifestyle modifications, and ongoing medical monitoring to control symptoms, prevent complications, and improve the individual’s quality of life. Unlike acute diseases, which may resolve with treatment, chronic conditions often necessitate long-term healthcare strategies to optimize health outcomes and maintain stability.

The impact of chronic diseases on individuals and healthcare systems is significant, emphasizing the importance of preventive measures, early detection, and comprehensive management strategies to address these conditions and their associated challenges.

Main Difference between Acute and Chronic Disease 

  1. The acute disease symptoms show up suddenly while those of chronic disease occurs gradually.
  2. The effect of acute illness tends to last for about a few days or weeks while of chronic illness lasts for more than three years.
  3. Acute condition symptoms tend to diminish faster after being subjected to treatment when compared to those of chronic conditions.
  4. A patient suffering from acute disease does not need hospitalization whereas those suffering from chronic illness might need hospitalization.
  5. Examples of chronic diseases are hepatitis C, Elephantitis, HIV/AIDS, diabetes mellitus, COPD, arthritis, and emphysema while those of acute conditions are pneumonia, strep throat, influenza, asthma, appendicitis, and broken bone.

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The distinction between acute and chronic diseases lies in their temporal characteristics, onset, and duration. Acute diseases are characterized by a sudden and intense onset of symptoms, often severe, and of short duration. These conditions develop rapidly and may include illnesses like influenza, pneumonia, or injuries such as fractures. They typically resolve either with medical intervention or the body’s natural healing processes within a relatively short timeframe.

On the other hand, chronic diseases manifest gradually and persist over an extended period, often lasting for months to years or even a lifetime. These conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or chronic respiratory diseases, require ongoing medical management due to their enduring nature. Chronic diseases result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors and necessitate long-term strategies, including medications, lifestyle modifications, and consistent medical monitoring, to control symptoms and prevent complications.

While acute diseases demand prompt attention to alleviate immediate symptoms, chronic diseases require sustained healthcare efforts to optimize long-term health outcomes. Understanding the differences between acute and chronic diseases is crucial for effective healthcare management, emphasizing the need for tailored approaches depending on the nature and duration of the medical condition.

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