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In medicine, an acute disease is a disease with either or both of:
- a rapid onset;
- 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.
Acute hospitals are those intended for short-term medical and/or surgical treatment and care.
- Between acute and chronic: eg subacute dementia
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.
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