Acute may be used to distinguish a disease from a chronic form, such as acute leukemia and chronic leukemia, or to highlight the sudden onset of a disease, such as acute myocardial infarction. The word "acute" may also be used in the context of medicine to refer to the acute phase of injury, meaning the immediate post-injury healing processes.
Definition of acute
The term "acute" may often be confused by the general public to mean "severe". However, not all acute diseases or injuries are severe, and vice versa. For example, a mild stubbed toe is an acute injury. Similarly, many acute upper respiratory infections and acute gastroenteritis cases in adults are mild and usually resolve within a few days.
The term "acute" is also included in the definition of several diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, acute leukemia, acute myocardial infarction, and acute hepatitis. This is often to distinguish diseases from their chronic forms, such as chronic leukemia, or to highlight the sudden onset of the disease, such as acute myocardial infarct.
Related terms include:
- Peracute, meaning very acute or violent.
- Acute on chronic, referring to an acute exacerbation of a chronic condition. It is applied to a variety of conditions, including: liver failure, subdural hematoma, renal failure respiratory failure, and bronchitis.
- Acute on chronic inflammation, a term sometimes used in pathology sometimes used to describe a pattern of inflammation which is a mixture of chronic and acute inflammation.[medical citation needed] It may be seen in asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic peptic ulcer, chronic periodontitis, tuberculosis, tonsillitis and other conditions.
- Subacute, a poorly defined state between acute and chronic, for example subacute endocarditis, or subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.
- Chronic, referring to a long-term condition.
Acute care is 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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