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Chronic

Chronic refers to something that continues over an extended period of time. A chronic condition is usually long-lasting and does not easily or quickly go away.

Chronic is the opposite of acute.

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Review Date: 1/16/2021

Reviewed By

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

References

Taber's Medical Dictionary Online website. www.tabers.com/tabersonline. Accessed April 15, 2021.

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Acute vs. chronic conditions - Illustration Thumbnail

Acute vs. chronic conditions

Acute conditions are severe and sudden in onset. This could describe anything from a broken bone to an asthma attack. A chronic condition, by contrast is a long-developing syndrome, such as osteoporosis or asthma. Note that osteoporosis, a chronic condition, may cause a broken bone, an acute condition. An acute asthma attack occurs in the midst of the chronic disease of asthma. Acute conditions, such as a first asthma attack, may lead to a chronic syndrome if untreated.

Illustration

Acute vs. chronic conditions - Illustration Thumbnail

Acute vs. chronic conditions

Acute conditions are severe and sudden in onset. This could describe anything from a broken bone to an asthma attack. A chronic condition, by contrast is a long-developing syndrome, such as osteoporosis or asthma. Note that osteoporosis, a chronic condition, may cause a broken bone, an acute condition. An acute asthma attack occurs in the midst of the chronic disease of asthma. Acute conditions, such as a first asthma attack, may lead to a chronic syndrome if untreated.

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