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What does the word chronic mean?

Many people when the hear the word chronic think it means serious. The term chronic means to last a long time. A chronic condition or disease is one that does not go away or takes a long time to go away. Mild medical conditions can be chronic if they last a long time. In comparison an acute disease is one that comes on quickly or lasts a short period of time. A chronic condition can also be acute if it comes on quickly. An example of this would be to damage a joint in an accident that causes inflammation of a joint. This would be acute arthritis. If the arthritis in that joint lasts after the surrounding area is healed then it would be chronic.

Examples of chronic diseases are arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. Most forms of chronic diseases develop over a longer period of time such as heart disease. Some forms of chronic diseases can come on quickly such as kidney disease.

A chronic disease can also last a shorter period of time if it last longer than the condition normally lasts. An example is a chronic infection. Most infections when treated only lasts a few days. If the infection resists treatment and takes weeks to go away under treatment then it is a chronic infection.

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