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Top ICD-10 codes for asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition that causes inflammation, swelling and narrowing of the airways in the lungs. This can lead to persistent bouts of coughing, difficulties breathing, chest pain and other symptoms that can majorly interfere with a person’s daily life.  According to the WHO, asthma is one of the most common non-communicable diseases affecting both children and adults globally. In 2019, asthma affected about 262 million people. 

Below, we’ve listed the 10 most common asthma diagnoses and the ICD-10 codes physicians and medical coders use to classify them.  

Top ICD-10 codes for asthma

ICD-10 code ICD-10 description # total diagnoses Total charges Explore dataset
J45909 Unspecified asthma, uncomplicated 8,809,971 $895,657,900  Explore
J4520 Mild intermittent asthma, uncomplicated 3,171,119 $240,033,735  Explore
J4540 Moderate persistent asthma, uncomplicated 1,748,280 $441,980,282  Explore
J4530 Mild persistent asthma, uncomplicated 1,362,824 $172,043,817  Explore
J45901 Unspecified asthma with (acute) exacerbation 1,226,093 $1,542,305,589  Explore
J4550 Severe persistent asthma, uncomplicated 568,154 $981,265,027  Explore
J4521 Mild intermittent asthma with (acute) exacerbation 541,411 $268,558,759  Explore
J45998 Other asthma 501,403 $74,292,094  Explore
J4541 Moderate persistent asthma with (acute) exacerbation 421,779 $294,381,114  Explore
Z825 Family history of asthma and other chronic lower respiratory diseases 202,966 $315,089  Explore
J4531 Mild persistent asthma with (acute) exacerbation 201,224 $91,560,776  Explore

Fig. 1.  Data from the Definitive Healthcare ClaimsRx product. Claims data is sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses in the United States and updated monthly. Data accurate as of June 2022.  

What are the ICD-10 codes for asthma? 

Unspecified asthma, uncomplicated ranks at the top of our list with a total of 8,809,971 diagnoses in 2021. The ICD-10 code for asthma, unspecified is J45909.  

This chronic condition has a considerable lead in both diagnoses and charges compared to all other ICD-10 codes. While many factors could contribute to why J45909 ranks number one, a likely cause could be problems with documentation. Many of the other codes on this list detail asthma of various degrees of chronicity and severity. A lack of proper documentation, however, could cause medical coders to resort to classifying the diagnosis as unspecified asthma, uncomplicated.  

An asthma attack, also called “asthma, exacerbation,” is another common diagnosis with a few top positions on our list. The ICD-10 codes for these diagnoses are J45901, J4521, J4541 and J4531.  

It’s also important to note that some physicians may regard asthma classifications as fluid. While this condition can’t be cured, a patient’s lifestyle can make the symptoms of asthma easier or harder to manage. Eliminating smoking habits and exercising regularly, alongside medical treatment, can potentially improve a patient’s condition. As a result, the classification of asthma a patient is diagnosed with can change over years and decades.  

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