Our bodies contain a molecule called creatine, which is developed by the food we eat. The food then breaks down into energy through a process called metabolism. Creatinine is the waste produced by creatine which travels to the kidneys through the bloodstream. Abnormal levels of creatinine could indicate a serious problem.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Muscle Mass

The creatinine levels are determined by muscle mass 1. Men will have higher levels of creatinine than women. This is due to the fact that men typically have more muscle mass than women 1. There are other factors that determine the levels of creatinine. These factors include age and weight. Elderly individuals will have lower levels of creatinine than what is considered normal due to the decrease in muscle mass with age 1. Infant levels are much lower strictly due to size.

Kidney Function

Your kidneys are basically a human garbage disposal. When the kidneys are functioning normally, they will filter out approximately 2 quarts of waste and excess water daily. This waste includes creatinine, and the waste is released through the urine.

Normal Levels of Creatinine

According to Frederick Hecht, MD, the average normal levels of creatinine in men are 0.6 to 1.2 milligrams per deciliter, and 0.5 to 1.1 milligrams per deciliter in women. These numbers rarely ever change unless there is a problem. There are tests available to measure the amount of creatinine being removed through your kidneys.

BUN Test

The BUN test measures the level of creatinine and blood urea nitrogen. This test is performed to determine how well your kidneys are functioning. When the level of creatinine is high, this indicates there are possible kidney problems. Higher levels of BUN typically indicates dehydration.

Clearance Test

Creatinine clearance testing is the most effective in determining potential kidney problems 2. This is due to the fact that the tests are performed on a blood and urine sample. These samples are taken over the course of 24 hours. This allows your physician to clearly see if your kidneys are working properly by eliminating the appropriate amount of creatinine.

Causes of Elevated Creatinine

There are several reasons why your levels of creatinine may be higher than normal. These reasons include diabetes, high blood pressure, certain medications and kidney disease. When your kidneys are failing, they do not have the capability of removing creatinine. This condition leads to the need for dialysis and possible kidney transplant. High blood pressure and diabetes are a major cause of kidney disease. It is important to keep these conditions under control.


The rise in creatine levels can cause certain symptoms. Some of these symptoms are confusion, dehydration, extreme tiredness and difficulty breathing. These symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have kidney problems but it is a possibility. Some people experience no symptoms at all. The only way to determine if there is a problem with your kidneys is to be checked by your doctor.