Difference Between Acute and Chronic Diseases

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People across age groups suffer from various health problems at various life stages. The conditions range from a common cold that lasts a few days to advanced cancer that may number our days. While routine health issues ebb on their own, certain diseases require specialized medical care over a long duration.

It is essential to know what kind of health problem you have to avail the right medical treatment on time. Everyone must understand the difference between acute and chronic diseases. This helps you take appropriate remedial measures to safeguard your health against any kind of illness.

What is an Acute Disease?

An acute disease is a health condition that develops quickly with a rapid outbreak of symptoms. However, the disease does not last long and usually gets cured within a few days or weeks. It may affect any part of the body. An acute condition may turn chronic if the symptoms persist for a long period and cause major health complications. The common symptoms of acute diseases are cough, sneezing, sore throat, fever, nausea, and diarrhoea.

Examples of Acute Diseases

Some examples of acute conditions are as follows:


Broken Bones


Common Cold


Heart Attack

Influenza (Flu)


Strep Throat

Urinary Tract Infection

What is an Chronic Condition?

A chronic disease is a health condition that develops over a while and is long-lasting. The disease may last for a few months, years, or even a lifetime. Though the symptoms are not severe in the initial stages, the disease slowly advances and endangers the patient’s life. Chronic diseases are one of the leading causes of disability and death in the world.

Unhealthy habits and poor lifestyle choices contribute a great deal toward chronic diseases. Some of these conditions are not curable but can be managed with proper medication.

Examples of Acute Diseases

Some examples of acute conditions are as follows:

Alzheimer’s Disease




Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease


Heart Disease


Kidney Failure





Differences Between Acute and Chronic Illnesses

The major differences between acute and chronic diseases have been outlined in the table below.

Acute Diseases


Chronic Diseases


The symptoms develop quickly

The symptoms develop gradually over time

These diseases last for a short time, maybe a few days or weeks

These diseases may last beyond a year or even a lifetime

They cause sudden damage to our body parts

The damage to the body is long-term and can be permanent

These diseases can be mostly treated with medication and can be cured completely

Not all chronic diseases can be cured. It may require complex surgeries and can turn fatal in the worst case

Examples: Common Cold, Diarrhea, Malaria, and Typhoid

Examples: Arthritis, Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke

How Are Acute and Chronic Conditions Treated?

The treatment for acute and chronic illnesses is quite different. A few acute diseases, such as sore throat or the common cold, may disappear on their own within 2 to 3 days.

 Please approach your doctor if the symptoms turn severe or the problem persists for a longer period. The doctor prescribes the course of treatment after conducting a physical examination. The treatment includes one or more of the following:

Prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Dietary recommendations and restrictions

Adequate sleep and rest

The patient usually makes a complete recovery within a few days or weeks. Acute diseases typically do not last beyond six months.

Unlike acute diseases, patients suffering from chronic illnesses have a long road toward recovery. A chronic disease may last beyond a year. The doctors may recommend surgery and other therapies. However, some diseases are not curable. They have to be managed over the patient’s lifetime with suitable medications and lifestyle changes. This may include one or more of the following measures:

Consumption of healthy and nutritious food

Engaging in regular physical activity to keep the body fit

Avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption

Getting sound sleep for 7-8 hours every day

Regular screening for early detection of health problems

Practising Yoga, meditation, and other relaxation techniques for better emotional well-being

The above measures help patients strengthen their immune systems and keep the disease under control.

Frequently Asked Questions on Acute and Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases are generally long-lasting, and many of them last for an entire lifetime. A complete cure may not always be possible, especially in the advanced stages. However, the pain and other symptoms associated with them can be controlled with proper medication and suitable lifestyle changes.

Most insurance companies provide coverage for pre-existing health conditions only after the policyholder completes a specified waiting period. For instance, insurers in the UAE have a waiting period of six months to one year for specific diseases. Policyholders cannot make any claim in respect of such diseases during this period.

You have to make a full and true disclosure of your medical condition to the insurer while buying health insurance. Deliberate concealment of material facts can result in the rejection of your claims by the insurer.

Critical illness insurance plans are best suited for life-threatening conditions such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, etc. These plans offer a lump sum payout to policyholders immediately after the disease is diagnosed. A critical illness insurance policy can be purchased in addition to your regular health insurance plan for better financial support.