Acute: Of abrupt onset, in reference to a disease. Acute often also connotes an illness that is of short duration, rapidly progressive, and in need of urgent care.
“Acute” is a measure of the time scale of a disease and is in contrast to “subacute” and “chronic.” “Subacute” indicates longer duration or less rapid change. “Chronic” indicates indefinite duration or virtually no change.
The time scale depends on the particular disease. For example, an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) may last a week, while an acute sore throat may only last a day or two.
- Acute abdomen
Acute abdomen: Medical shorthand for the acute onset of abdominal pain. A potential medical emergency, an acute abdomen may reflect a major problem with one of the organs in the abdomen, such as appendicitis (inflamed appendix), cholecystitis (inflamed gallbladder), a perforated ulcer in the intestine, or a ruptured spleen.
- Acute angle-closure glaucoma
Acute angle-closure glaucoma: Increased pressure in the front chamber (anterior chamber) of the eye due to sudden (acute) blockage of the normal circulation of fluid within the eye. The block takes place at the angle of the anterior chamber- the space at the junction of the cornea with the iris. This angle can be seen […]
- Acute bronchitis
inflammation of the breathing tubes within the lungs (bronchial tubes or bronchi) as a result of an infection (viral or bacterial) or a chemical irritant (such as smoke or gastric acid reflux). The inflammation causes swelling of the lining of these breathing tubes, narrowing the tubes and promoting secretion of inflammatory fluid. Most commonly, acute […]
- Acute coronary syndromes
Acute coronary syndromes: A spectrum of conditions involving chest discomfort or other symptoms caused by lack of oxygen to the heart muscle (the myocardium). The unification of these manifestations of coronary artery disease under a single term reflects the understanding that these are caused by a similar pathophysiology (sequence of pathologic events) characterized by erosion, […]
- Acute fatty liver of pregnancy
Acute fatty liver of pregnancy: Abbreviated AFLP, liver failure in late pregnancy, usually of unknown cause. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), frequent thirst (polydipsia), increased urination (polyuria), headache, and altered mental state. Laboratory features of AFLP include low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), elevated liver enzymes, and low […]