Acute diseases generally develop quickly and usually only last for a few days or weeks. A good example of this is the common cold, where the symptoms appear and disappear relatively quickly with no long-lasting health problems. An example of this in relation to glutathione depletion is in acetaminophen (paracetamol) overdose, where the acute poisoning causes a severe and dramatic loss of cellular glutathione, especially in the liver. If not treated rapidly with NAC, liver failure and death can occur.

Chronic Diseases These generally develop slowly and can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages. They often worsen over a longer period of time, months, years or a whole lifetime. They are often caused by unhealthy lifestyles (including smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise and poor nutrition), but genetic factors also play a significant role. Unlike most acute conditions, chronic diseases cannot be cured easily. Some good examples of these are Type 2 diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Many studies have shown that glutathione levels are depleted and progressively decrease during the progress of these chronic conditions.