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Acute (medicine)

In medicine, an acute disease is a disease with either or both of:

  1. a rapid onset, as in acute infection
  1. a short course (as opposed to a chronic course).

This adjective is part of the definition of several diseases and is, therefore, incorporated in their name, for instance, severe acute respiratory syndrome, acute leukemia.

The term acute may often be confused by the general public to mean 'severe'. This however, is a different characteristic and something can be acute but not severe.

Acute hospitals are those intended for short-term medical and/or surgical treatment and care. The related medical speciality is called acute medicine.

Subacute is defined as between acute and chronic, for example subacute fever symptoms or subacute endocarditis. An example is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, a rare brain disease characterized by diminished intellectual function and loss of nervous function.

Chronic is the opposite of acute - meaning a long term condition, for example chronic bronchitis. Chronic may also be confused by the general public to mean severe. Once again, this is a different definition medically and something can be chronic but not severe.

Acute Medicine is defined as the early and specialist management of adult patients suffering from a wide range of medical conditions requiring urgent or emergency care usually within 48 hours of admission or referral from other specialties.

See also

  • Idiopathic
  • Chronic pain


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