Acute Health Issues

In acute health issues, symptoms appear and change or worsen rapidly. Acute conditions are severe and sudden in onset.

Acute conditions are often caused by a virus or an infection, but can also be caused by an injury resulting from a fall or an accident, or by the misuse of drugs or medications.

Acute health issues come on rapidly and are accompanied by distinct symptoms that require urgent or short-term care, and get better once they are treated. Sometimes an acute illness, such as the common cold, will just go away on its own. Most people with acute illnesses will soon recover.

Chronic Health Issues

Chronic health conditions develop and worsen over an extended period of time. Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

Many chronic diseases are caused by a short list of risk behaviors:

  • Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Poor nutrition, including diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in sodium and saturated fats
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Excessive alcohol use