ICD 10 for Sleep Apnea: How Do You Code Sleep Apnea?

code sleep apnea

If you are looking into ICD 10 for sleep apnea, you are in for an academic treat. ICD 10 is a set of codes that help professionals and others understand the diagnosis of a situation like sleep apnea well according to international standards.

What Is ICD 10?

It is called the International Classification of Diseases (Division 10) and is authorized to be published by the World Health Organization. It is a mortality coding which was first implemented in 1999 and is often used for the classification of diagnosis too.

In the US, there is a Clinical Modification version which is based on ICD 10 published by WHO. ICD 10 CM is the standard in the US for diagnostic reasons and it falls under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Using this set of codes, you can track disease burden, outcomes, billing, mortality stats and healthcare statistics in general.

Types of Sleep Apnea and Their Codes

When it comes to sleep apnea, the ICD 10 diagnosis coding is G47.3. But this is not billable because you will need to provide more specifications and details of the problem. To help you describe the diagnosis better, there are nine codes in this category and here’s what they are.

  • G47.30 (unspecified)
  • G47.31 Primary central sleep apnea
  • G47.32 High altitude periodic breathing
  • G47.33 Obstructive sleep apnea (adult) (pediatric)
  • G47.34 Idiopathic sleep-related nonobstructive alveolar hypoventilation
  • G47.35 Congenital central alveolar hypoventilation syndrome
  • G47.36 Sleep-related hypoventilation in conditions classified elsewhere
  • G47.37 Central sleep apnea in conditions classified elsewhere
  • G47.39 Other sleep apnea

But there are essentially three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and complex.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This one is the most common type of sleep-related disorder. When you have OSA, you are likely to start and stop breathing when you are sleeping.

    Obviously, it is a very dangerous disorder and it happens because the muscles in the throat relax every now and then. This blocks the airway when you are asleep. Snoring is a common sign of obstructive sleep apnea.

Dangerous as it may sound, there is a treatment for this disorder. One of the options is to use a device that will put pressure on the airways and keep them open while you are asleep.

Another way to deal with OSA is to keep a mouthpiece in your lower jaw to make it extend forward while you are asleep. If the problem is severe, surgery is also recommended on a case-to-case basis.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • Snoring
  • Too much sleeping during the day
  • Starting and stopping breathing while sleeping
  • Waking up abruptly along with choking or gasping
  • Waking up with a sore throat or a dry mouth
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability or depression
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Decrease in libido 
  • Central Sleep Apnea: This one is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea, but it might be a bit tricky to diagnose and provide treatment for central sleep apnea.

    This disorder occurs when the brain does not send messages to the muscles that control breathing while you are sleeping. So, it is not a mechanical problem like OSA. It is a neurological problem.

This is typically a problem among those who have other illnesses like brain infections and such which impact the brain stem, Parkinson’s disease, extreme obesity, chronic heart failure and strokes.

Individuals who use opioids and/or benzodiazepines for a long period of time might be at a greater risk because their breathing mechanisms become numb.

This is usually a problem that should be diagnosed by a sleep specialist. They might want to do an overnight sleep test to make sure that it is not any of the other sleep-related disorders.

They may also want to bring in a cardiologist to make sure your heart is not a contributor to the problem. This is perfectly normal when checking with ICD 10 for sleep apnea.

The issues that might be causing central sleep apnea are very much a part of its diagnosis. So if you have heart issues, they might be causing the symptoms of central sleep apnea.

Adjusting the dosage of that medication and pressure on the ventilation system are all possible lines of treatment. You might even be asked to use a CPAP or BiPAP mask (also called a ventilator). The second mask sends pressurized air to the lungs and helps you inhale and exhale.


  • Episodes where you don’t breathe
  • Abnormal breathing while asleep
  • Being woken up due to trouble with breathing
  • Cannot stay asleep, also a symptom of insomnia
  • Sleeping excessively during the day, also called hypersomnia
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Changes in the mood
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Snoring
  • Complex Sleep Apnea: This is a combination of the first two types and has been identified only fairly recently. The big difference is that you cannot fix this with CPAP masks as you can do with those who have OSA.

    Individuals with complex sleep apnea have breathing problems even after airway issues are treated. This means the throat muscles are not the only problem.

There is a lot we don’t know about this condition or how it can even be defined specifically. This is why it is difficult to treat it too.

The Importance of ICD 10

ICD 10 is an incredible tool when it comes to specifying diagnosis. It makes it easy to incorporate into emerging diagnoses, it is more specific and precise, helps measure healthcare services, is a better tool for healthcare surveillance (through stats) and uses current terminology.

This is the foundation for many healthcare trends and statistics all over the world and is used for research and clinical purposes. ICD 10 is hierarchical and comprehensive too. Here’s why this code is an improvement over ICD 9.

  1. Easy to store and retrieve
  2. Easy to compare notes from across hospitals to different countries
  3. Can be used to compare data across time periods
  4. Based on research and clinical input and epidemiology

Parting Thoughts

ICD 10 is both granular and is a big improvement from ICD 9 in the sense that it is more specific and allows professionals to provide quality patient care.

It is more detailed in terms of severity, complexity and laterality. The terminology is the latest and the classification is precise.


Dan was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2017 when he was only 32 years old. He has been using a BIPAP machine for his treatment. He hopes to provide a patient's perspective on the sleep apnea experience. Dan lives in Tampa with his girlfriend and 2 dogs.

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