It is a chemical waste product of creatine, an amino acid produced and stored in the liver.
Creatinine is the result of normal muscle metabolism .
The chemical enters your bloodstream after it breaks down. Your kidneys remove it from your blood. Creatinine then leaves the body through urination.
This process helps your body maintain a normal creatinine level. But sometimes, routine blood or urine tests can reveal low (or high) levels of creatinine.
Normal levels vary based on your body size and muscle mass. For example, a normal range for men is between 0.6 and 1.2 mg / dl and a normal range for women is between 0.5 and 1.1 mg / dl.
Symptoms of low creatinine
The symptoms that accompany low creatinine levels depend on the underlying condition. Low creatinine levels can be caused by:
- A muscle disease, such as muscular dystrophy . Symptoms of a muscle disease include muscle weakness, muscle stiffness, and pain and decreased mobility.
- A liver disease: Poor liver function interferes with creatine production, which can cause low creatinine. Symptoms include jaundice, abdominal pain and bloating, and pale, bloody, or tar-colored stools.
- Excess water loss – Pregnancy, excess water intake, and certain medications can cause this.
Since the breakdown of muscle tissue produces creatinine, low levels of this chemical waste are often produced in people with low muscle mass.
A reduction in muscle mass is common in older people, as most people lose muscle mass as they age.
Low muscle mass can also be the result of malnutrition or a low-meat or low-protein diet.
The causes of low creatinine differ from the causes of high creatinine. Creatinine levels also play a role in assessing kidney function.
When creatinine begins to build up in the body, doctors must test for kidney problems.
Possible causes of a higher creatinine level include:
- Kidney damage or kidney failure.
- Kidney infection
- Reduced blood flow to the kidneys.
If you have high creatinine levels, symptoms can include:
- Changes in urination
- High blood pressure
- Chest pains
- Muscle cramps.
How to diagnose low creatinine levels?
Your doctor can use multiple tests to check your creatinine level. One option is a serum creatinine test, which measures the amount of creatinine in the bloodstream. Another option is a urine creatinine test.
If your lab results confirm a low creatinine level, your doctor may suggest that you do more tests to rule out muscle disease.
This may include a muscle biopsy or a muscle enzyme test to check for muscle damage.
Treatment options for low creatinine depend on the underlying cause. If you have a muscle disease, treatment focuses on treating the related condition and reducing muscle pain, weakness, and degeneration.
Options include corticosteroids to improve your muscle strength or therapy to improve your quality of life.
Low creatinine levels due to pregnancy should normalize after giving birth.
If you are taking a medicine that contributes to a lower level, talk to your doctor about how to adjust your dose or switch to another medicine.
Treatments for low muscle mass
If an underlying medical condition is not responsible for a reduction in muscle mass, medical treatment may not be needed.
Your doctor may recommend measures to increase your muscle mass and normalize your creatinine level.
Increasing your level of physical activity and doing strength training exercises a few days a week can increase muscle mass. Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program. You can try:
If your doctor believes that low muscle mass is the result of improper nutrition or extreme weight loss, adjust your diet.
Make sure you eat five to six small, healthy meals a day. Include a mix of fruits and vegetables, as well as protein-rich foods.
Low creatinine overview
The prognosis is generally positive for people who have low creatinine levels, as long as they receive necessary treatment for any underlying medical conditions.
If further testing rules out muscle disease, your doctor may suggest lifestyle and diet changes, and then retest your level at a later time. With the proper settings, your levels should normalize.