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Creatinine Test: Purpose, Range, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

HealthcareOnTime Team 2022-11-05 2023-06-26 3 Min Read
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  • Exploring  Creatinine Levels and their Significance in Creatinine Tests

    What Is Creatinine?

    Creatinine serum is the waste product in your blood that passes through the kidneys to be filtered and eliminated from your body through urine. It’s the byproduct of a chemical compound called creatine (which helps the muscles get the energy they need).

    According to medical experts, your muscle mass is directly proportional to the level of creatinine, i.e., the more muscle you have, the more creatinine serum you will produce. The level is indicative of both the muscle mass in an individual and the amount of kidney function.

    What Is Creatinine Blood Test?

    A Creatinine Clearance Test is a common medical test that measures the level of creatinine in your blood. The creatinine blood test is primarily used to assess kidney function. Since the kidneys play a vital role in filtering waste products from the blood, elevated levels of creatinine can indicate impaired kidney function or other kidney-related disorders.

    When you visit your healthcare provider for routine physical exams, they may include a creatinine blood test alongside other essential laboratory tests such as a blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test, as well as a basic metabolic panel (BMP) or comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP). These comprehensive assessments provide invaluable insights into your kidney function, aiding in the diagnosis of potential diseases and ensuring your kidneys are working optimally.

    By discussing the results of your creatinine blood test, along with the other laboratory tests, with your healthcare provider, you can gain a deeper understanding of your kidney function and overall well-being. Together, you can proactively address any concerns, make informed decisions about your health, and take necessary steps to maintain the vitality of your kidneys

    When Should You Undergo The Creatinine Blood Test?

    Healthcare practitioners will always recommend you undertake the creatinine serum test to determine how well your kidneys function. The creatinine level can help them eliminate signs and symptoms of potential kidney problems.

    In most cases, when your current symptoms or past medical history indicates the possibility of a kidney problem, your healthcare practitioner may recommend the test. The chances increase if: 

    • You suffer from diabetes
    • You have a family history of suffering from kidney problems
    • Your blood pressure remains high
    • You are showing symptoms of kidney disease like nausea, swollen feet & ankles, trouble sleeping, and losing appetite

    The doctors may also advise you to undergo a creatinine serum test if you’re on certain oral medications which have the potential to disrupt your regular kidney functions. In such a scenario, you will frequently undertake the test allowing your healthcare expert to monitor your condition.

    How Does The Creatinine Clearance Test Work?

    Did you know that creatinine is a natural substance produced by your body during everyday activities? It's created when a substance called creatine, mostly found in your muscles, gets converted into energy. As a result of this process, creatinine is formed.

    Normally, if your kidneys are working well, they help remove creatinine from your body through urine. However, when your kidneys aren't functioning properly, they may struggle to eliminate creatinine effectively, causing it to build up in your bloodstream.1

    To measure the levels of creatinine in your urine and blood, two different tests are commonly used:



    Serum Creatinine (scr)

    Measures the amount of creatinine circulating in the bloodstream. Any deviations from the expected range can indicate renal impairment.

    Creatinine Clearance (CrCl)

    Compares SCr levels with the amount of creatinine excreted in urine over 24 hours. Provides insights into the kidneys' ability to clear creatinine.

    By understanding these tests and what they measure, you can gain insights into your kidney function and overall health.

    What Happens Pre, During, and Post-Creatinine Testing?

    The creatinine test is a simple test categorized into two parts: Urine and Blood tests

    Here’s a quick briefing on both aspects:

    Urine Test: Your healthcare doctor will ask you to collect all urine during the 24 hours in a dedicated container. They will also help you understand how to collect and store your sample. The steps for this are:

    • Empty your bladder early in the morning and flush it away
    • For the next 24 hours, collect all your urine in the container provided
    • Ensure you’re adhering to the instructions provided by your medical expert for storing the container. In most cases, it involves keeping the container in a cool place, like a refrigerator.
    • After 24 hours, return the container to the laboratory for further analysis.

    Blood Test: Here, the healthcare professional will collect your blood sample into a test tube or vial. They need a small amount of your blood, which they send to the laboratory for analysis. The process hardly takes 5 minutes, and after giving the sample, you’re free to continue your daily routine.

    What are Normal Creatinine Levels And What Do They Indicate?

    Creatinine Test Normal Range

    Medical experts state that creatinine level is lower in women than men because of less muscle mass. They also share that all individuals have different creatinine levels depending on their age, diet, and muscle mass.

    Here’s the average creatinine normal range for both genders:


    Average creatinine levels (μmol/L)

    Average creatinine levels (mg/dL)

    Adult Male



    Adult Female



    In case you’re pregnant, the average values for creatinine will vary across trimesters. Here’s a quick overview of the reference values


    Mean creatinine level

    Upper limit of creatinine level


    56 μmol/L (0.63 mg/dL)

    76 μmol/L (0.86 mg/dL)


    52 μmol/L (0.59 mg/dL)

    72 μmol/L (0.81 mg/dL)


    54 μmol/L (0.61 mg/dL)

    77 μmol/L (0.87 mg/dL)

    Creatinine Test Results: What Do They Indicate?

    Result of a Creatinine Serum Test

    Serum Creatinine Level

    The amount of creatinine in your bloodstream and the creatinine filtration rate in your body should be stable. An increased serum creatinine level is indicative of poor kidney health.

    Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)

    GFR is used to check whether the kidneys are functioning correctly. A GFR below 60 points toward renal disorders.

    Creatinine Clearance

    Creatinine clearance measures the removal of creatinine from the bloodstream by the kidneys. Low creatinine clearance indicates poor kidney function and renal disorders.

    Albumin/Creatinine Ratio

    The albumin/creatinine ratio quantifies a urine sample's albumin to creatinine ratio. A higher ratio indicates diabetic nephropathy, also known as diabetic kidney disease.

    Creatinine Serum Test Result Ranges

    Serum Creatinine Level

    - Adult men: 0.74 - 1.35 mg/dL
    - Healthy adult women: 0.59 - 1.04 mg/dL

    Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)

    Below 60 indicates renal disorders

    Creatinine Clearance

    - Men: 19 - 75 mL/min/BSA
    - Women: Varies based on age groups

    Albumin/Creatinine Ratio

    - Healthy adult men: Less than 17 mg/g
    - Healthy adult women: Less than 25 mg/g

    What Are The Symptoms Associated With High Creatinine Levels?

    Curious about the Significance of Raised Creatinine Levels? If your creatinine levels are elevated, they may indicate the following conditions or situations:

    • Kidney obstruction – arising due to the presence of kidney stone or enlarged prostate gland
    • Excessive consumption of protein
    • Blocked urinary tract
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Consumption of certain oral medications, like trimethoprim, cimetidine, etc

    What Are The Symptoms Associated With Low Creatinine Levels?

    If your creatinine level falls below the expected range, it may signify the following conditions or situations, accompanied by the signs and symptoms of low creatinine levels:

    • Malnutrition
    • Decreased muscle mass due to underlying conditions that affect your muscles and nerves
    • Liver disease –interferes with creatinine production and triggers symptoms like jaundice, swelling, abdominal pain, etc. 

    How Does Creatinine Testing Help Diagnose Kidney Disorders?

    Creatinine testing serves as a valuable tool in diagnosing a wide range of kidney disorders, categorized broadly as chronic kidney disease (CKD) or acute kidney injury (AKI). By measuring creatinine levels, healthcare professionals gain crucial information to guide diagnosis and treatment. Let's explore the conditions these tests help diagnose:

    Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD):

    • CKD signifies a progressive and non-reversible decline in renal function.
    • Common causes include diabetes, hypertension, and glomerulonephritis.
    • Other contributing factors may include lupus, polycystic kidney disease (PKD), and recurrent kidney infections.
    • In some cases, CKD can progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), requiring interventions like dialysis or kidney transplantation to sustain life.

    Acute Kidney Injury (AKI):

    • AKI refers to kidney damage that impairs their function, and in certain cases, it can be reversible.
    • AKI can arise from various causes situated before (prerenal), within (renal), or after (postrenal) the kidneys.
    • Prerenal causes: Dehydration, heart attack, organ failure, sepsis, significant blood loss, or overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
    • Renal causes: Kidney cancer, kidney trauma, severe kidney infection, allergic drug reactions, or vasculitis.
    • Postrenal causes: Kidney stones, ureter blockages, urinary retention, urologic cancers (such as bladder or prostate cancer), or conditions compressing the ureter.
    • In some cases, AKI can progress to acute renal failure, which can be reversed by treating the underlying injury or disorder.

    What Are The Best Ways To Treat Low Levels Of Creatinine?

    Depending on the underlying cause of low creatinine, your healthcare expert will recommend you the treatment option that works best in your favor ensuring personalized care and effective treatment of low creatinine levels. Here are some of the best scenarios that arise in various situations:

    • If your creatinine value is low due to a muscular disease: In this scenario, your healthcare practitioner will treat your underlying medical condition and recommend ways to reduce muscle pain, weakness, etc. In most cases, it involves consuming corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory drugs), improving your muscle strength and quality of life.
    • If your creatinine is low during pregnancy: It requires no special treatment because, according to experts, the creatinine level normalizes after you’ve given birth to the newborn. However, if you were on any oral medication disrupting the levels, consult the doctor immediately, asking them to either minimize the dosage or give you an alternative recommendation.
    • Low creatinine level due to muscle mass: In this situation, the healthcare expert will recommend you increase your physical activity level or indulge in strength training exercises a few times a week. You can try – brisk walking, swimming, aerobics, weight lifting, etc., to strengthen yourself. However, always consult an expert before starting any new exercise regimen.
    • Low creatinine level due to malnutrition or diet: In this case, your doctor will recommend you change your diet chart. Consult a dietician or a nutritionist and include more fruits, green leafy vegetables, and protein-rich food items in your diet for effective results.

    FAQs On Creatinine Test

    When To Worry About Creatinine Levels Being Low?

    It's generally not a cause for concern if your creatinine levels are slightly lower than usual. Still, if your levels are significantly lower than normal, it could indicate an underlying health condition that you must address.

    What Causes Low Creatinine?

    Your creatinine levels might be low due to kidney disease, liver disease, malnutrition, and certain medications. Working with your healthcare provider to determine the cause of low creatinine levels and the appropriate treatment is essential.

    What If Creatinine Is Low?

    Low creatinine levels can lead to the body's build-up of waste products. It can lead to several health concerns, including fatigue, weakness, and muscle cramps. In severe cases, low creatinine levels can lead to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening for some people.

    What Does Low Creatinine Mean?

    If your creatinine levels are lower than usual, it could indicate an underlying health condition affecting the kidneys' ability to filter out waste products. It includes symptoms such as kidney failure, liver disease, and malnutrition.

    Causes Of Low Creatinine In Adults?

    Kidney and liver disease and certain medications, including ACE and ARBs, trigger low creatinine levels in adults.

    How Do You Raise Low Creatinine Levels?

    To raise the creatinine levels in the body, healthcare providers recommend intaking more protein. You may also get suggested to stop taking a few medications if they reduce the creatinine level in your system.


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