Doctors often use a creatinine test to determine the function of your kidneys. Having high levels of creatinine in the urine or blood may indicate that the kidneys are not filtering the blood effectively. It may be a sign of a serious health issue, such as Chronic Kidney Disease.
What is Creatinine?
Creatinine is a chemical produced by the muscle due to wear and tear. It usually passes through the bloodstream and filtered through the kidneys and is removed through the urine. Creatine forms when protein is converted into energy through metabolization. It becomes creatinine when it’s broken down. The creatinine level in your blood can be used to measure overall kidney function. Having high levels of creatinine in the blood can indicate kidney disease, since impaired kidney function cannot properly filter waste products such as creatinine.
If you have high creatinine levels, you may be at risk of uremia, a sign of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Uremia is a buildup of toxins in the blood that occurs when the kidneys stop filtering toxins through the urine. If left untreated, uremia can result in serious health problems or death.
Normal range of Creatinine
What makes creatinine unique is that it is produced at a constant rate, making them at equilibrium in your body. When the kidneys are damaged, they become less efficient in filtering waste materials such as creatinine. This indicates the amount of creatinine in the blood usually increases.
Creatinine levels are different based on different factors including age, gender, and body size. Two tests are used to determine kidney function, the serum creatinine test and the creatinine clearance test.
Serum Creatinine Test
The serum creatinine test measures the creatinine level in the blood. It is a common blood test that doesn’t require any preparation. This test is often used as a preliminary test to determine kidney health. The serum creatinine levels increase as the kidney function decline, indicating a kidney problem long before any other symptoms of CKD start to appear.
Doctors will use other lab test results to calculate your Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) and determine your kidney function more accurately. GFR is the kidney’s filtration rate, or the speed at which your kidneys can filter waste from your blood.
Serum creatinine is measured by the milligrams (mg) of creatinine per deciliter (dL) of your blood. The normal levels range between:
- 0.6 - 1.2 mg/dL for adult males
- 0.5 - 1.1 mg/dL for adult females
Creatinine Clearance Test
On the other hand, a creatinine clearance test is an older test used to evaluate how your kidneys can remove creatinine from your bloodstream. It involves the collection of urine over 24 hours and then a blood test. These samples are used to check how much creatinine was filtered through the kidneys over the 24-hour window.
As the creatinine clearance test needs urine and blood sample collected within 24 hours, this test involves more preparation compared to a serum creatinine test. Nevertheless, a creatinine clearance test is a much more precise estimate of actual kidney function.
Creatinine clearance is measured in milliliters (ml) of blood filtered per minute (min). The normal levels range between:
97 - 137 ml/min for males
88 - 128 ml/min for females
Creatinine Levels Chart
As mentioned, creatinine levels are determined by different factors. However, normal blood creatinine levels are:
Men: 0.6 to 1.2 mg/dL; 53 to 106 mmol/L
Women: 0.5 to 1.1 mg/dL; 44 to 97 mmol/L
Teenagers: 0.5 to 1.0 mg/dL
Children: 0.3 to 0.7 mg/dL
On the other hand, normal urine creatinine levels are:
- Men: 107 to 139 mL/min; 1.8 to 2.3 mL/sec
- Women: 87 to 107 mL/min; 1.5 to 1.8 mL/sec
- Any person >40 years of age: Levels should drop by 6.5 mL/min for every additional 10 years of age
Check this creatinine levels chart below to understand your kidney function better:
Stages of Renal Failure
SC: 0.6-1.2 mg/dl
SC: 0.5-1.1 mg/dl
Higher than 90 ml/min
SC: 1.3-1.9 mg/dl
SC: 1.2-1.9 mg/dl
60 to 90 ml/min
SC: 2.0-4.0 mg/dl
SC: 2.0-4.0 mg/dl
30 to 60 ml/min
SC: > 4.0 mg/dl
SC: > 4.0 mg/dl
Less than 30 ml/min
Important Note: For Serum Creatinine tests, see numbers in "SC" and for Clearance Rate tests see numbers in "CR".
Note: It is important to understand that these numbers are mere general reference. What is normal can vary depending on factors such as age, gender and body size. It is best to refer to your doctor to know about your kidney function better.
You can refer to our blog to know more about the creatinine level chart.
Causes of high levels of Creatinine
Having high creatinine levels can indicate a sign of kidney disease. Symptoms may include changes in quantity and frequency of urine, changes in the appearance of urine and blood in the urine. Factors that can increase the levels of creatinine include:
Specific medications such as antibiotics, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs)
Creatine supplements or those containing creatine as an ingredient
Dietary factors including high protein consumption
Declined kidney function
Low blood flow
If your lab test shows a high creatinine level, your doctor may order further tests to determine the cause.
Foods to Lower Creatinine
Dietary treatment is an essential aspect of managing Chronic Kidney Disease along with proper medication. It is important to meet a renal dietitian or talk to your nephrologist to discuss your unique dietary needs.
A Journal of Renal Nutrition study in March 2014 shared that foods with added fiber can lower creatinine levels among CKD patients. The study found that the serum creatinine levels of 13 CKD patients declined after consuming fiber-rich foods for two weeks.
According to National Kidney Function (NKF), it is important to limit potassium and phosphorus consumption to lower creatinine levels. Here are a few of the foods you can consume instead to help manage your creatinine and CKD:
This vegetable is great for people with CKD as it can replace foods such as rice or even pizza crust. Cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C, fiber and folate that fight off toxins in the body. It tastes great whether eaten as steamed or as soup.
Rich in antioxidants, berries make a great snack. The berries you can include in your CKD diet are cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, red grapes, and cherries. These berries are rich in vitamin C and low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.
This cruciferous vegetable has phytochemicals that protect the body from free radicals. It is relatively low in sodium and potassium. Consuming cabbage may also help minimize the risk of certain diseases, fight inflammation and improve digestion. It is a tasty vegetable great in soups or stir-fries.
Salmon, tuna, and sea bass are just a few of the fish you can add to your diet. They are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Since the body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids, eating these foods can help with your intake.
Omega-3 fats can help reduce fat levels in the body and lower blood pressure. It is especially beneficial for people with CKD as high blood pressure is a risk factor for CKD.
5.) Bell Peppers
Make your dish more flavorful with red bell peppers. These brightly-colored peppers are rich in vitamin A and C as well as antioxidants. They boost the immune system and protect your body against cell damage. Bell peppers are also low in potassium.
One way to make your food more flavorful without increasing your sodium intake is using spices. Onions are rich in vitamin C, manganese, antioxidants, and B vitamins that help fight inflammation, minimize triglycerides and manage cholesterol levels — all of which may lower heart disease risk.
They also have anti-inflammatory properties that may also help reduce high blood pressure.
When you have CKD, your doctor may advise you to limit your sodium intake. Garlic offers a delectable alternative to salt while providing amazing nutritional benefits. This spice is also a great source of vitamins C and vitamin B6 as well as manganese.
Garlic is known to fight inflammation, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, and support immune function.
Healthy greens such as spinach and kale are rich in potassium that may not be great for your renal diet. However, arugula is low in potassium yet rich in vitamin K, calcium and manganese, all of which are essential for bone health.
It also contains nitrates that help lower blood pressure, an essential benefit if you have kidney disease.
This crunchy vegetable is low in potassium and phosphorus yet high in important nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin C. It has an antioxidant that is known to lower heart disease risk.
9.) Shiitake mushrooms
Mushrooms are a great plant-based meat alternative for those who are required to limit protein in their diet. They are an excellent source of copper, manganese, selenium and B vitamins. They are also lower in potassium compared to portabello and white button mushrooms.
High creatinine levels in the blood when you have CKD should be addressed properly to help manage the decline of kidney function. A great way to manage high levels of creatinine is through diet by consuming foods that are low in potassium and phosphorus as well as monitoring the amount of protein consumed. Consuming the foods suggested above may help lower creatinine levels.
Nevertheless, it is always best to check in with your nephrologist and renal dietitian for customized medications and dietary plans, respectively.
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