In common parlance, creatinine is defined as 'a chemical byproduct which results from normal muscle contractions or muscle metabolism'. As the name suggests, this byproduct is made from creatine (an amino acid that does not occur in proteins but is found in the muscle tissue of vertebrates both in the free form and as phosphocreatine; supplies energy for muscle contraction).
Everyday about 2% of the total creatine of the body gets converted into creatinine. This byproduct in the blood is transported to the kidneys, where most of it is filtered and is disposed of in the urine. The muscle mass is not subjected to a change on a daily basis and thus, creatinine levels do not undergo much of a change regularly.
Creatinine Levels - Indicator of the Kidneys' Health
Healthy kidneys maintain a normal concentration of a protein in blood. However, for varied reasons, if the kidneys are affected by any illness which leads to malfunction, then it would affect these levels. Generally, there is a rise in these levels, as a result of poor clearance by the kidneys. The levels which are alarmingly high, may indicate severe malfunctions or even failure of the kidneys. It can also be high in people with normal kidney function. This may be mainly due to the intake of certain medications, consuming a good amount of meat, performing body building exercises, etc.
A process known as creatinine clearance test measures the amount of creatinine disposed off from the body by the kidneys. This test gives better information about the function of the kidneys, than that of the blood creatinine test (measure of creatinine levels in the blood).
It is clear from the above explanation that lower the mass of muscle tissues, lower will be these levels in the blood. This is the reason females have lower levels as compared to men. The normal levels in men with no kidney disease would give a measure of approximately 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams/deciliters (mg/dL). While, the same in healthy women is found to be ranging from 0.6 to 1.1 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). In case of healthy infants, the levels are 0.3 to 1.2 mg/dL and in teens, it must be 0.5-1.0 mg/dL. For normal levels in urine, the readings must be 90-140 milliliters per minute (mL/min) for men and 7-107 mL/min for women.
Elderly people, those with prolonged illness, and who are malnourished are the ones observed with lower levels than expected for their age. This is due to the fact that their muscles keep reducing in proportion over time. Those living with one kidney, generally have 1.8 or 1.9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) as normal. Individuals who show a level of 10 or more, are affected by severe kidney impairment and are generally put on dialysis in order to get rid of the wastes from the blood.
When these levels rise, it would trigger symptoms such as shortness of breath, confusion, fatigue, dehydration or a feeling of the same, and many other abnormal symptoms. These symptoms may be similar to those in case of kidney failure. Creatine levels may rise in response to high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, even certain drugs may be responsible for the rise in the levels and so does ingestion of high amounts of dietary meat, as already mentioned above.
Keeping one self abreast about his/her creatinine levels would help prevent any further complications or severe illness of the kidneys in time. On observation of the aforementioned symptoms, one should visit the concerned doctor so as to get these levels checked and analyzed.
Disclaimer: This WellnessKeen article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.