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Creatinine is a waste material that is produced during the normal wear and tear of the muscles of the body. Your muscles have a high-energy molecule, called creatine phosphate. Creatinine is the by-product of creatine phosphate, which is produced at a constant rate and cleared from the blood by the kidneys.

Each one of us has creatinine in the blood. If the creatinine clearance is decreased, it results in increased blood (or serum) creatinine. A rise in serum creatinine is an indicator of kidney impairment.

What is the normal level of creatinine?

The normal range of creatinine varies with age, race, gender, and body size.
In general,

  • The normal range of creatinine for adult men: 0.74 to 1.35 mg/dL
  • The normal range of creatinine for adult women: 0.59 to 1.04 mg/dL

In general, while muscular young or middle-aged adults may have more creatinine in their blood than the general population, elderly people may have lower creatinine. For people who are dealing with malnutrition, severe weight loss, and chronic conditions, creatinine levels might be lower than other people of the same age group, owing to a reduction in muscle mass over time.

When do you need a creatinine test?

You may need to get your creatinine levels tested if you have symptoms of kidney disease, are at risk of getting kidney problems, or want to check your kidney health.

The following symptoms can be suggestive of health issues related to the kidneys: 

-Fatigue, not attributed to any other cause
-Puffiness around the eyes
-Swelling in your feet and/or ankles
-Frequent and painful urination
-Foamy or bloody urine

Your risk of getting kidney disease is higher if you have:

-A family history of kidney disease
-Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
-High blood pressure

Is knowing creatinine values tell my doctor if my kidneys are working properly?

Your doctor needs to look at how much creatinine is in your blood along with some other important parameters as well. The reason is creatinine levels in your blood can be affected by your age, race, gender, and body size. The best way to know if your kidneys are functioning well is to look at your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and creatinine. GFR is a measure of how much blood passes through the tiny filters of the kidneys (glomeruli) each minute. If the kidneys are damaged, they shall pass lesser blood to get filtered. Please note that creatinine is considered a late marker of acute kidney injury because kidney function is decreased by almost 50% before a rise in serum creatinine is observed.

What do raised creatinine levels indicate?

Any health condition that impairs the function of your kidneys is likely to cause a spike in serum creatinine levels. It is equally important to identify whether the condition and process leading to kidney dysfunction are recent or chronic. While recent elevations may be more easily reversed and treated, chronic conditions might be difficult to deal with and demand special care.

The most common causes of chronic kidney disease include

-High blood pressure
-Diabetes.

Other causes of elevated blood creatinine levels are:

  • Consumption of a large amount of meat in the diet
  • Certain drugs (for example, cimetidine)
  • Kidney infections, abnormal muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis), and urinary tract obstruction.

How do I prepare for a serum creatinine test?

A creatinine blood test does not require fasting to get an accurate result. You can eat and drink the same as you do normally.

What should I do after getting my creatinine test results?

It is important to tell your doctor about any medicines you are currently taking, both prescription and over-the-counter. Some drugs, like cimetidine, chemotherapy drugs, cephalosporin antibiotics, may increase your creatinine levels and impact your test results. Your doctor may take this into consideration when interpreting your lab test results.

Get geared up for a better kidney health

Your kidneys are vital organs that help remove toxic body wastes and optimize your health. Along with getting your serum creatinine and kidney function checked from time to time, keep yourself hydrated and include fresh, leafy vegetables in your diet. Being physically active also helps your kidneys stay healthy and well-functioning. 

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