(732) 520-8877

J20.9: A Comprehensive Guide to Acute Bronchitis: unspecified

Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is a common condition that medical providers encounter regularly. It inflames the bronchi in the lungs, leading to coughing and discomfort. For accurate diagnosis and billing, the Acute Bronchitis ICD-10 code, J20.9, is essential. It ensures patients receive the right treatment while enabling smooth medical billing processes.

Recognizing the signs and effectively coding them using the J20.9 Acute Bronchitis ICD-10 code is vital for healthcare providers and medical billers. This code not only aids in precise documentation but also supports the healthcare system in tracking and managing bronchitis cases.

General information about bronchitis?

Bronchitis, characterized by the J40 ICD 10 code, marks a common yet significant respiratory condition. At its core, bronchitis involves the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the vital airways that deliver breath to the lungs. 

This inflammation results in a persistent cough, often accompanied by mucus, and can significantly impact a patient’s daily life.

Classification of bronchitis?

Bronchitis comes in two main forms: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis usually starts with a cold or similar lung infection and lasts briefly. Chronic bronchitis is more serious and happens when the air passages in the lungs stay irritated or swollen, often because of smoking. It’s a long-term condition and is included under chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung diseases.

understanding these types, coded as J20.9 in the Bronchitis ICD 10 classification, is crucial for accurate and effective patient care management.

  • Acute Bronchitis
  • Chronic Bronchitis

What is Acute Bronchitis?

Have you heard of acute bronchitis, often referred to as J20.9 in medical billing? It’s a common condition that many of us might face. Think of it as a temporary inflammation of your bronchial tubes, those vital pathways that carry air to your lungs. This inflammation leads to coughing, sometimes producing mucus, and it can make you feel pretty unwell.

But here’s the thing: acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus, similar to what causes your cold or flu. So, it’s not just a random cough; it’s your body reacting to an infection

Signs of Acute Bronchitis?

Persistent Cough. It’s a cough that lingers, often bringing up mucus, and it can last for several weeks even after other symptoms have subsided.

Shortness of Breath: Acute bronchitis can make it feel harder to breathe, especially during physical activity, as the airways are inflamed and produce excess mucus.

Wheezing: A whistling sound when breathing can occur, indicating that the air passages are narrowed or obstructed, which is typical in bronchitis.

Chest Discomfort: People often feel a tightness or soreness in their chest, which is due to the constant coughing and inflammation in the lungs.

Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired is common with acute bronchitis, as your body is using energy to fight the infection and deal with inflammation.

Mild Fever and Chills: While not as common, a low-grade fever and chills can accompany bronchitis, signaling your body’s immune response to the infection.

Stressed by medical billing? Call us now, and let our specialists create a customized billing strategy for your practice.

Varieties of acute bronchitis with their ICD-10 Codes?

When it comes to ICD-10 codes, different kinds of acute bronchitis are grouped based on what causes them. Here are a few usual types of acute bronchitis and their matching ICD-10 codes.

1:Acute Bacterial Bronchitis

This type is caused by bacteria. Symptoms may include a productive cough, chest discomfort, and possibly fever.

However, J20.8 is used when Acute bronchitis is due to other specified organisms. This code ensures precise billing for cases identified as bacterial.

It is further classified into different types and it is recommended to use the specific code.

Acute Bronchitis due to Mycoplasma Pneumoniae

This type of bronchitis is caused by the Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacterium. The code J20.0 is used for diagnosing this specific kind of acute bronchitis.

Acute Bronchitis due to Hemophilus Influenzae

This kind of bronchitis is caused by the Hemophilus influenzae bacterium. For diagnosing Acute bronchitis due to Hemophilus influenzae, the ICD-10 code J20.1 is used.

Acute Bronchitis due to Streptococcus

This is bronchitis that happens because of the Streptococcus bacterium. When diagnosing Acute bronchitis due to Streptococcus, the code J20.2 is applied.

2: Acute Viral Bronchitis

Acute viral bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi in the lungs caused by a virus. It typically presents with symptoms like coughing, slight fever, and sometimes difficulty in breathing.

It is further classified into different types and it is recommended to use the specific code.

Acute Bronchitis due to Coxsackievirus

It is caused by the virus  Coxsackievirus. Use code J20.3 for accurate diagnosis.

Acute Bronchitis due to Parainfluenza Virus

This type results from the virus  Parainfluenza virus. Code J20.4 is used for diagnosis.

Acute Bronchitis due to Respiratory Syncytial Virus

It is caused by the Respiratory syncytial virus. Use code J20.5 for proper diagnosis.

Acute Bronchitis due to Rhinovirus

This type is a result of the virus Rhinovirus. For diagnosis, code J20.6 is used.

Acute Bronchitis due to Echovirus

It is caused by the virus Echovirus. The diagnosis code is J20.7.

3: Acute Bronchitis with Bronchospasm

In this type, bronchitis is accompanied by bronchospasm, which involves the tightening of muscles around the airways, leading to coughing and difficulty in breathing.

The appropriate ICD-10 code for acute bronchitis with bronchospasm is J20.9. Documenting this condition correctly is key for accurate billing.

4:Acute Asthmatic Bronchitis

This form combines bronchitis with asthmatic symptoms. It typically presents with a cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

For acute asthmatic bronchitis, use the ICD-10 code J45.9. This code is essential for claims where bronchitis symptoms overlap with asthma.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Bronchitis

Diagnosis of Acute Bronchitis

The process of diagnosing acute bronchitis involves careful assessment of the patient’s symptoms and medical history. Physicians look for common signs such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. 

A crucial step in the diagnosis is differentiating acute bronchitis from other respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia or asthma, which can display similar symptoms. To achieve this, healthcare professionals may conduct a physical examination, focusing on the lungs and breathing.

In some instances, additional diagnostic tests are required. A chest X-ray can be pivotal in ruling out pneumonia, while pulmonary function tests might be used to exclude asthma. 

For a comprehensive analysis, doctors may also request a sputum test to identify any bacterial infection, which aids in determining whether the bronchitis is viral or bacterial in nature.

Treatment of Acute Bronchitis

The treatment for acute bronchitis primarily aims to alleviate symptoms and address the cause, if it’s bacterial. Since most cases of acute bronchitis are viral, antibiotics are generally not effective. 

Symptomatic treatment includes over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants and pain relievers, which can ease discomfort and help with fever.

For patients experiencing severe coughing or difficulty breathing, inhalers and bronchodilators may be prescribed to relax and open the airways. In cases where allergies or asthma are contributors, inhaled steroids could be beneficial. 

Alongside these treatments, doctors often recommend lifestyle adjustments such as increased fluid intake, rest, and avoiding irritants like tobacco smoke. These measures are crucial in supporting the body’s healing process and preventing exacerbation of symptoms.

Coding guideline for acute bronchitis?

To ensure precision and thoroughness in coding for acute bronchitis, adherence to specific coding guidelines is crucial. The following points outline the essential coding practices for accurate documentation of acute bronchitis

 Classification of Bronchitis Type: It’s crucial to record the exact bronchitis category, be it simple, mucopurulent, fibrinous, membranous, purulent, or septic. Accurate classification aids in choosing the precise ICD-10 code that corresponds to the diagnosed type of bronchitis.

Recording Time-Related Aspects of Bronchitis: Ensure to note the time-related aspects of the bronchitis condition, whether it’s acute, chronic, acute chronic, or recurring. These time-related details are essential in the selection of the correct code, reflecting the condition’s duration and nature.

Identification of Causative Agents for Bronchitis: It’s important to record any viral or bacterial agents involved, such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Hemophilus influenzae, or others. Identifying the specific agent is key for choosing the right ICD-10 code that accurately represents the causative pathogen.

Inclusion of Concurrent Conditions: Document any related conditions like tracheitis, tracheobronchitis, or bronchospasm. These should be noted to justify the medical necessity of the services provided and might necessitate additional ICD-10 codes.

Noting Factors Contributing to Bronchitis: Any contributing factors to bronchitis, like exposure to tobacco smoke (whether occupational or environmental), tobacco dependence, or a history of tobacco use, should be documented. This allows for the assignment of extra ICD-10 codes that detail these contributing elements alongside the bronchitis diagnosis code.

Prevention Tips for Avoiding Acute Bronchitis

  • Stay updated with flu and pneumonia vaccines to reduce infection risks.
  • Prevent virus spread by frequently washing hands with soap and water.
  • Stay away from cigarette smoke and polluted air to keep your lungs healthy.
  •  Use masks in crowded places to minimize inhalation of harmful particles.
  • Maintain a balanced diet and exercise routine to strengthen your immune system.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep your throat and airways clear of mucus.
  • Address colds or respiratory infections quickly to prevent complications.
Maximize your practice's revenue today. Call now to speak with our expert medical billing team.


Acute bronchitis, coded as ICD-10 J20.9, is a key respiratory condition affecting many. Understanding its types and treatments is crucial for effective patient care and accurate medical billing. With this guide, providers and billers are better equipped to diagnose and code acute bronchitis cases, ensuring both optimal patient outcomes and precise billing.

 Remember, J20.9 isn’t just a code; it’s a vital part of managing acute bronchitis. Stay informed and stay ahead in providing quality healthcare.

Table of Contents

Search Here
Recent Post
Need more help?
Get A Free Practice Audit!
Get Free Medical Billing Audit