An important component of the human muscle is creatine. The breakdown of creatine during muscle metabolism give rise to another byproduct, referred to as creatinine. As we all know, the process of conversion of food into energy is metabolism. The energy production in muscle is the result of muscle metabolism, a process that generates creatinine. Although, most of creatinine is eliminated through urine, when the kidneys filter out blood, a small amount of creatinine still flows through the blood stream.
High Creatinine Levels
Consistent high creatinine levels is a cause for worry. It indicates kidney dysfunction. In other words, when there is too much of creatinine in the blood, the kidneys are certainly not working properly. This could also mean a kidney disease or even a serious issues like kidney cancer. Formation of kidney stones can also lead to high creatinine levels.
What Do Low Creatinine Levels Mean
In most cases, low creatinine in the blood, is not bothersome. Usually the person does not experience any symptoms even after normal range of creatinine decreases. However, low creatinine blood levels rightly indicate that the kidneys are functioning properly, which is not the case if the test shows elevated creatinine levels. On the whole, poor creatinine levels is rarely troublesome. Following are the causes:
Diet Deficient in Proteins
Creatine is found naturally in protein rich foods like fish (salmon, tuna). So, less intake of protein foods will result in less creatine in the body. As creatine is low, the presence of its byproduct (creatinine) will also reduce.
Low creatinine levels in pregnancy are observed during the second trimester. This happens because during this period, the amount of creatinine that is eliminated is significantly more than normal. Pregnant women excrete 30% more of creatinine than usual. After delivery, creatinine levels increase gradually before finally coming back in the normal range.
Age is yet another factor that can influence creatinine levels in blood. It is observed that as the age increases, the body shows a decline in creatinine levels. It is very common to hear, old people diagnosed with below-normal creatinine levels. Studies show that on an average with age, the body decreases muscle mass by about 10 pounds in every 10 years. Hence, creatinine levels are lower in elderly people as compared to youngsters.
Low Muscle Mass
As aforementioned, creatine is predominantly found in the human muscles. Although the percentage of creatine that gets transformed to creatinine is very less (just 2%), it cannot be overlooked. So, lowered creatinine levels in blood would mean there is shortage of creatine, indirectly pointing out to decreased muscle mass. Diseases that contribute to low muscle mass are muscular dystrophy and myasthenia gravis.
When creatinine levels remain low for long periods of time, it can be a symptom of liver diseases. However, this diagnosis is a rarity. Viruses such as hepatitis can harm the liver and lead to lowered muscle mass. Basically, the job of producing creatine (that metabolizes to creatinine) is done by the liver. So, if there are liver problems the creatine levels are likely to reduce and subsequently the creatinine levels will also drop gradually.
Low Creatinine Levels in Urine
As mentioned earlier, the body gets rid of creatinine in the form of urine. A point to note that decreased creatinine levels in urine does not necessarily mean that kidney is damaged and unable to excrete sufficient amount of creatinine. The above statement hold true only when the blood test shows normal creatinine levels in the sample of blood. In other words, creatinine levels in blood should always be less than in urine. If creatinine concentration in urine exceeds blood creatinine levels, then it may indicate that something is wrong with the kidneys. To be precise, it suggests kidneys are not working correctly and are finding it difficult to remove creatinine from blood.
Too much water intake is the main reason behind creatinine levels sliding below the normal range in urine. Taking prescribed diuretics or drinking coffee and tea increases the urine flow rate. This frequent peeing dilutes the urine, which may reduce creatinine levels.
As compared to men, women have less muscle mass, hence their creatinine levels are always less than men. On the whole, usually creatinine levels below the normal range is not worrisome and does not require a visit to a doctor. A point to note that although less than normal creatinine levels in blood isn't a serious issue, when it is more than creatinine levels in urine, one will have to undergo further tests to check for kidney problems.