Creatinine is a waste product of metabolism that needs to be thrown out of the body. But when kidneys are not functioning properly it does not get eliminated and starts to accumulate in blood. Typically individuals experience fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, confusion, swelling in the feet, etc. These symptoms when observed in individuals with long-standing diabetes clearly indicate a kidney impairment requiring immediate action.
Creatinine is formed in the body when muscle proteins break down and to a lesser extent by the breakdown of red meat. This should not be confused with creatine, which is in fact a fuel for the muscles. Usually intense training athletes are advised creatine supplements as they help in muscle building. So creatinine is the breakdown product of creatine phosphate in the muscles.
What is normal?
0.7 to 1.3 mg/dL for men
0.6 to 1.1 mg/dL for women
It can be seen that normal values differ between men and women. Women usually have a lower creatinine level than men because they have lesser muscle mass. Creatinine level varies based on a person’s size and muscle mass.
What do abnormal levels mean?
If the Creatinine levels are much higher than normal, then the physician may need to check for:
- Blockage in the urinary tract
- Kidney problems, such as kidney damage or failure, infection, or reduced blood flow
- Dehydration (Loss of body fluid)
- Disease involving breakdown of muscles such as rhabdomyolysis
- Eclampsia or preeclampsia in pregnancy causing high blood pressure
Although very rare, but lower than normal serum creatinine levels may be due to:
- Conditions involving the muscles and nerves that lead to decreased muscle mass’
This test is not confirmatory of kidney damage and is often accompanied by other kidney function tests. However, once kidney damage is confirmed, serum creatinine levels are monitored frequently to determine extent of loss of kidney function. Unfortunately, kidney damage cannot be reversed but only the progression can be controlled. So, from the very beginning, individuals with high blood pressure and diabetes for more than 3 years should get creatinine levels checked once in every 6 months and any minor abnormalities should also be taken seriously.
Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.