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Updated July 25, 2010


From the Greek word khronos, which means lasting for a long time.

Medical providers use the word chronic to describe symptoms, diseases or conditions that affect a patient for three months or longer, such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue or chronic indigestion. It can also be used to describe symptoms or problems that recur over a span of time (flares).

Chronic medical problems that don't have the word "chronic" in them include heart disease, MS or multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or any condition or disease that can't be cured and instead must be managed.


A medical problem that is not chronic may be described instead as "acute" or "subacute".

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