CreatinineUsed to evaluate or discover kidney disease, kidney failure or malfunction, a creatinine test is a relatively common test that medical professionals often order when treating patients with conditions that affect the kidneys such as high blood pressure, type-one or type-two diabetes, or in those that are taking medication that can affect kidney function.

Because creatinine is a chemical waste product that’s produced by muscle metabolism, The Mayo Clinic states that healthy kidneys are able to filter creatinine and other waste products from blood. However, when kidneys are not working properly, higher than normal levels of creatinine become apparent in blood and urine and alert medical professionals of a potential problem.

Normal levels of creatinine differ in the human body, with women usually having lower levels compared to men because women have less muscle tissue. “Among adults without kidney disease, men have approximately 0.6 to 1.2 milligrams/deciliters (mg/dL) of creatinine, whereas women have between 0.5 to 1.1 mg/dL of creatinine,” as stated in a recent article.

“Generally, creatinine levels in the blood remain unchanged from day to day because muscle mass usually stays the same. Taking certain medicines, eating a lot of meat or building muscles through weight training or other exercise may show higher amounts of creatinine, even in those who don’t have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Creatinine levels can be lower than normal for people who are elderly, malnourished or vegetarian.”

When creatinine levels spike above normal amounts, doctors will then often prescribe medication that aids in kidney function, and will frequently test creatinine levels to monitor and track the progression of kidney disease. When creatinine levels reach 10.0 mg/dL in adults, and 2.0 mg/dL in children, dialysis is usually recommended.

According to another article, in some instances, kidney related conditions may not yet be diagnosed in patients. However, when feelings of weakness or chronic tiredness, dehydration, confusion, or shortness of breath are reported, doctors are often alerted that kidney damage may be occurring and through a creatinine test, can diagnose kidney related issues and prevent further damage and complications.

When it comes to testing for creatinine, there are a few specific tests that are often used and help determine kidney function. According to the article, these test tests include:

  • Serum creatinine:
    A blood test that is commonly performed as part of a physical examination if a person has blood work done. Blood is drawn and analyzed to find out how much creatinine is in the bloodstream. Knowing your serum creatinine allows doctors to calculate your creatinine level along with your age, gender and race, to determine your GFR (glomerular filtration rate — a measure of kidney function). If you know a serum creatinine level you can determine the stage of CKD using the DaVita GFR Calculator.
  • Creatinine clearance (Ccr or CrCl):
    This test measures how much creatinine is cleared out of the body, or how well kidneys filter waste and is a combination of a urine and blood test. A creatinine clearance test is usually ordered if the serum creatinine level is higher than normal or when a person is starting dialysis.
  • BUN/creatinine:
    This test is the ratio between blood urea nitrogen (BUN), a waste product in the blood from protein metabolism, and creatinine. This ratio is used to help determine if kidney function is impaired due to a damaged or diseased kidney or another factor outside of the kidneys. If both BUN and creatinine are high, the ratio usually indicates damage to the kidneys. If BUN is high but creatinine is normal, then the kidney is generally not damaged but is not getting adequate blood supply due to another problem such as dehydration or heart failure.

While high levels of creatinine correlate to kidney damage and disease, there can be other factors at play and according to the same article can include infection or autoimmune diseases, drugs or toxins, prostate disease, kidney stones or other urinary tract obstructions, shock, dehydration and congestive heart failure. Creatinine blood levels can also increase temporarily as a result of muscle injury and are generally slightly lower during pregnancy.

To go along with creatinine, there is also the compound know as creatine, which is a made primarily in the liver and then transported to your muscles, where it is used as an energy source for muscle activity. Creatine is also available as a dietary supplement and is popular among athletes or those looking to increase their muscle mass. Once in the muscles, some of the creatine is spontaneously converted to creatinine, which leads to the question of this supplement increasing creatinine levels, as well as the overall safety of consuming it.

While healthy adults who take creatine as a supplement can see higher levels of creatinine in their samples, levels are typically not high enough to cause concern. However, those with kidney disease or other kidney problems are advised to not take creatine as a supplement. In addition, some literature states that creatine is likely to be safe when taken by mouth in healthy adults for up to approximately five years. Concerns are apparent, however, when the supplement is taken in higher than recommended doses, and for prolonged periods of time. The article states that this can harm the kidney, liver, or heart function, but the connection has not been proven yet.

For more information on Neogen’s creatinine detection kits, click here.


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