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Friday, August 7, 2020

Creatinine: Everything You Need to Know

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Creatinine is simply a waste product produced in your body. It is a by-product of metabolism gotten from the normal wear and tear that goes on in your body on a daily basis.

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The levels of creatinine in your body are affected by your sex, age, body size, and even race. This means, the “normal” range depends on these factors. Your kidneys remove creatinine from your bloodstream.

This means checking the levels of creatinine is your bloodstream might not be the best way to know if your kidneys are functioning well. The best test to go for is the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR).

Although, creatinine levels are still used to access the functions of the kidneys, other tests like BUN (blood urea nitrogen) are used also. These tests will give your doctor an indication of the overall functions of your kidneys.

Even though the normal levels of creatinine differ based on the factors mentioned above, it is possible to have high levels of creatinine and suffer from it.

Despite this, a high level of creatinine is anything above 13 mg/dl. Low creatinine levels also exist and it is more common in people with low muscle mass.

Low levels of creatinine is not seen as a serious medical problem whereas, high level of creatinine is serious and should not be overlooked.

Normal Levels of Creatinine in the Body

Despite these factors on which “normal” depend for individuals, certain ranges are considered normal by medical science. The normal range for creatinine in the serum is:

  • In ladies from the age of 16 and upwards is 0.6 – 1.1 mg/dl. The range is lower in women because they have les muscle mass than men. They also have a lower rate of creatinine creation and also the excretion.
  • For men aged 16 and above, the normal range is 0.8 – 1.3 mg/dl
  • For infants and kids less than 16 years of age, it is 0.2 mg/dl and this depends on their muscle development

These values differ by race. In non-Hispanic blacks:

  • The average blood creatinine level for men is 1.25 mg/dl
  • In women, the average range is 1.01 mg/dl

The mean blood creatinine levels in non-Hispanic whites are:

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  • 16 mg/dl in men
  • 97 mg/dl in women

The mean blood creatinine levels in Mexican-American are:

  • 07 mg/dl in men
  • 86 mg/dl in women
  • Increase in creatinine levels in children by 2.0 mg/dl and 5.0 mg/dl in adults is an indication of severe kidney damage.

Risk Factors for High levels of Creatinine

Some conditions can predispose you to having high levels of creatinine. Some of them are:

  • Having only one kidney
  • People who are dehydrated, they have high levels of creatinine. The kidneys use water to expel this waste from the body.
  • Being a young or middle-aged muscular athlete. This can create a high level of creatinine in your body.
  • Elderly people who are dehydrated
  • Elderly people with infections or diseases.

Risk Factors for Low Levels of creatinine

There are some factors that can also put one at risks of low levels of creatinine. They are:

  • Elderly people
  • People who lost a lot of weight
  • Malnourished people
  • Bedridden patients or people who are chronically ill
  • People in wheelchairs

Low levels of creatinine do not require treatment.

Symptoms of High Creatinine Levels

You will notice some uncomfortable signs and symptoms when you have high levels of creatinine in your body. These symptoms are associated with kidney dysfunction.

In some cases, some people might not experience any symptoms. This is why it is advised to go for regular screenings and also watch your diet and lifestyle.

However, when symptoms do occur, you will notice the following. And note that these are symptoms of kidney disease or failure. I would advise you conduct a well-trained naturopath if you notice any of these symptoms.

Causes of Creatinine Misbalance

There are many factors that cause high or low levels of creatinine in the body. Common causes of creatinine misbalance and kidney disease/damage are:

  • Abnormal breakdown of the muscle also known as Rhabdomyolysis
  • Intake of excessive red meat in your diet
  • Blockage of the urinary tract such as bladder problem, prostate enlargement, and kidney stones
  • Some medications
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney problems
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Treatment Methods for Abnormal Levels of Creatinine

Proper hydration

Dehydration is one of the risk factors of high creatinine level and kidney disease. So you should do all you can to ensure that you are properly hydrated.

You can rehydrate by taking in plain water, other oral fluids like herbal teas, and even intravenously. If you have kidney disease, you have to ask your doctor about the quantity of water and other fluids you should take daily.

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This is because fluid intake can be an issue for some people who have kidney diseases.

Change/stop your medications

Medications that cause high levels of creatinine should be stopped or changed. You have to meet your doctor to help you get off that drug or change it for you.

Don’t do this on your own. Do it under the direction and supervision of your doctor. Also, you should not take supplements that contain the amino acid Creatine.

This natural compound is made in your liver. From there, it is transported to your muscles to be used as energy. Unused Creatine is converted into creatinine and expelled as a waste product.

Creatine is available in the form of oral supplements and a lot of athletes take this to enhance performance. If you want to reduce your levels of creatinine, you have to avoid these supplements.

Some drugs that can cause high levels of creatinine are:

  • ACE inhibitors
  • Cyclosporine
  • Chemotherapy drugs

Limit your intake of alcohol

There is a strong link between excessive intake of alcohol and kidney disease. And kidney disease has been linked to high levels of creatinine.

It would be wise if you reduce your intake of alcohol if trying to reduce your creatinine levels or prevent kidney diseases.

Your diet should be healthy

Your diet plays a huge role in the production of creatinine in your body. Your diet has to more of low-fat and low-salt.

You also have to reduce your intake of red meat. They increase the levels of creatinine. The heat used in cooking converts Creatine found in these meats into creatinine.

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You should also reduce your intake of animal proteins in general, including eggs, milk, and dairy products. Go for whole plant-based proteins.

You also need more fiber in your diet as it has been shown to reduce the levels of creatinine in people with chronic kidney disease. Rich sources of fiber are green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits.

Exercises should be regularly

Regular exercise will help with the elimination of creatinine from the body. However, this shouldn’t be a vigorous exercise. You just mild exercises for at least 15 minutes daily.

Overdoing it or engaging in vigorous exercises can increase your levels of creatinine because muscle metabolism is what creates creatinine.

You can walk for at least one hour daily instead of running. You can do mild exercises instead of lifting weight.

Don’t smoke

Smoking can increase your blood pressure. This, in turn, will increase your risks for kidney damage. This means smoking can indirectly raise your levels of creatinine. You can find effective ways to stop smoking here.

Control your blood sugar

Diabetes is one of the risks factors for kidney disease. There is also a relationship between high levels of blood sugar and high levels of creatinine.

Untreated diabetes can raise your levels of creatinine because it affects the abilities of your kidney to expel wastes.

Control your blood pressure

Hypertension is a sign that the functions of the kidneys are affected. So preventing this is also a way of preventing kidney damage and failure.

Maintain a healthy weight

Weight gain and high body mass index because it increases metabolism. So maintaining a healthy weight is good way to keep the production of creatinine in check.

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  1. Creatinine and Creatinine Clearance Blood Tests WebMD
  2. Creatinine (Low, High, Blood Test Results Explained) MedicineNet
  3. Dietary fiber effects in chronic kidney disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled feeding trials EJCN
  4. False Estimates of Elevated Creatinine NCBI
  5. Creatine MayoClinic
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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Ebiojo David
I am a Biochemist and Naturopath, I love writing and educating people on health and wellness matters.

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