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High Creatinine Levels - Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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High Creatinine Levels - Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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A rise in the creatinine levels is seen when the kidneys do not function properly. To know more about its causes, symptoms, and treatment read the article.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Praveen Pushkar

Published At August 9, 2021
Reviewed AtApril 13, 2024


Creatinine is a waste product produced as a result of muscle metabolism. High creatinine levels indicate several medical conditions, or it can also be a temporary byproduct of certain lifestyle conditions. Most people are not sure when to worry or what creatinine levels can indicate a serious underlying medical condition. This article will guide us through high creatinine levels, their causes, and treatment.

What Is Creatinine?

Creatinine is a waste product that comes from the body. It comes from the normal wear and tear of the muscles. The kidneys usually filter these creatinine and other waste products from the blood, and later, it is excreted from the body through urine. It is one way to determine the functioning of the kidneys. If the creatinine levels are high in the blood or urine, then it indicates an underlying health condition. Having high levels of creatinine is not necessarily a harmful condition, but it can be a marker of other health conditions.

What Is the Normal Creatinine Level?

Creatinine levels may vary according to age, sex, race, hydration, or body mass.

  • Adult males: 0.6 to 1.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

  • Adult females: 0.5 to 1.1 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Low Vs. High Creatinine Levels:

The causes for low creatinine levels differ from the causes that result in high creatinine levels. Low creatinine levels can be caused by muscle disease, liver disease, excess loss of water, pregnancy, and some medications.

In What All Conditions Can the Creatinine Levels Be High?

Usually, high levels of creatinine indicate that the kidneys are not functioning properly. There are many possible causes for high levels of creatinine. They include:

  • Infections in the kidneys.

  • Glomerulonephritis- It is a condition in which the structures of the kidney used to filter the blood are inflamed.

  • Kidney stones.

  • Kidney failure.

Apart from the kidney, many other factors contribute to high creatinine levels. These include:

  • Dehydration.

  • Excessive intake of protein either through food sources or through supplements.

  • High-intensity exercises.

  • Some medicines can cause kidney damage and can impair their ability to function. Drugs include:

  1. Antibiotics like Aminoglycosides, Vancomycin, etc.

  2. ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors.

  3. Proton pump inhibitors.

  4. Diuretics.

  5. Certain chemotherapy drugs.

  6. Lithium.

Some health conditions can result in high creatinine levels like:

  • Diabetes.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Cardiac disease.


What Are the Symptoms Commonly Seen When Creatinine Levels Are High?

The symptoms depend on the cause that is resulting in high creatinine levels.


Drugs like antibiotics, diuretics, and ACE inhibitors can result in high creatinine levels. The symptoms include:

  • Nausea.

  • Retention of fluid.

  • Confusion.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Chest pain.

  • Fatigue.

  • Irregular heartbeat.

Infection In Kidney:

It is also called pyelonephritis. This kidney infection can happen when bacteria or viruses infect the parts of the urinary tract before they enter the kidneys. The symptoms include:

  • Fever.

  • Chills.

  • Frequent urination.

  • Painful urination.

  • Foul-smelling urine.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Pain at the back or groin.


Glomerulonephritis is a condition where the parts of the kidneys that help filtrate the blood get inflamed. It is caused by infections or autoimmune diseases like lupus, etc. The symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine.

  • Foamy urine.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Fluid retention in face, hands, and feet.


Diabetes is linked to kidney disease. Symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination.

  • Polydipsia (excessive thirst).

  • Increased appetite.

  • Fatigue.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Tingling sensations in the hands and feet.

  • Numbness in the hands and feet.

  • Delayed wound healing.

High Blood Pressure:

High blood pressure can weaken or result in damage to the blood vessels that are present around the kidneys, later affecting the function of the kidney, and resulting in high creatinine levels. It normally shows no symptoms.

Cardiac Disease:

Heart diseases such as congestive cardiac failure and atherosclerosis can affect the blood flow to the kidneys, resulting in impaired kidney function. The symptoms include:

  • Chest pain.

  • Fatigue.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

  • Symptoms of stroke include paralysis.

Kidney Failure:

Kidney failure is one of the most common causes resulting in high creatinine levels. Symptoms of kidney failure include:

  • Fluid retention.

  • Passing small volumes of urine.

  • Fatigue.

  • Nausea.

  • Headaches.

  • Confusion.

  • Muscle cramps.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Chest pain.

How Are High Creatinine Levels Diagnosed?

Usually, blood samples or urine are collected to determine the levels of creatinine.

  • Blood Creatinine Test: In this test, blood is collected from the arm vein and analyzed for creatinine levels. It is also known as the serum creatinine test. Creatinine levels above the normal range are taken as high creatinine levels.

  • Urine Creatinine Test: Either a single urine sample is collected, or a 24-hour sample may be collected. A 24-hour sample means collecting urine throughout 24 hours.

  • The amount of creatinine in urine is calculated along with the creatinine levels in the blood.

How to Get Prepared for Creatinine Tests?

To prepare for the creatinine test,

  • Fast overnight before taking the test.

  • For certain tests, abstain from eating meat for a particular time.

  • Avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours.

  • Inform the doctor if taking any supplements.

  • Apart from these, based on the overall health, the doctor may suggest some advice.

How Is High Creatinine Level Treated?

The treatment for high creatinine levels depends on the underlying cause. Before treating high creatinine levels, the cause needs to be addressed and treated.

  • If high creatinine levels are caused due to kidney infection, then it can be treated with antibiotics.

  • If high creatinine levels are caused by high blood pressure, then antihypertensive drugs should be prescribed to treat the cause.

  • There are some lifestyle changes that doctors may recommend, along with treating the cause. Such as:

  • Reducing protein intake.

  • Increasing the intake of dietary fiber.

  • Drinking plenty of water as dehydration can increase creatinine levels.

  • Lowering the intake of salt.

  • Quitting smoking.

  • Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol.

  • Avoiding overuse of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).


Creatinine levels vary according to the cause underlying it. For those people who are experiencing a temporary increase in creatinine levels, the high levels should generally be resolved following prompt treatment of the underlying condition. Proper treatment can reduce the risk of any kidney damage and can more likely hasten the recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Foods to Avoid During Raised Creatinine Levels?

Cooked red meat contains creatine which on heating produces creatinine. Therefore, cooked red meat should be avoided. Also, fish products and dairy products should be avoided, which have high creatinine.


What Levels of Creatinine Symbolize Kidney Malfunction?

Creatinine levels above 1.3 mg/dL are considered high. However, creatinine values above 5.0 mg/dL in adults and 2.0 mg/dL in infants are considered abnormally high and signify severe kidney disorder.


What Does an Increased Creatinine Level Indicate?

Raised creatinine levels are an indicator of kidney failure or impaired kidney function. Kidney helps in clearing the level of creatinine in blood by excreting them. If these kidneys lose their function due to kidney failure, the creatinine is retained, raising its levels in the blood.


Is High Creatinine a Problem of Concern?

Increased creatinine levels is an alarming sign of kidney failure or impaired kidney function, which needs immediate medical intervention.


Can High Creatinine Levels Be Reversed?

If the high creatinine levels are due to lifestyle activities, dietary factors, or medications, then lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and stopping medications help reduce the levels of creatinine.


Can Creatinine Levels Be Lowered by Drinking Water?

Although drinking water helps reduce the level of creatinine in the blood, it is not of much help in treating the underlying kidney disease; therefore, it is not advisable to force yourself with excessive water drinking.


How Can We Reduce Creatinine Levels?

- Avoiding red meat.
- Drinking adequate water.
- Limiting the intake of protein.
- Consuming a fiber-rich diet.
- Reduced salt intake.
- Avoiding NSAIDs.
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking.


At What Level of Creatinine Is Dialysis Required?

Dialysis is required if the creatinine levels are highly increased above 5.0 mg/dL, and kidney function goes below 15%.


What Are the Medications That Increase Creatinine Levels?

Cimetidine, Pyrimethamine, Trimethoprim, Phenacemide, Corticosteroids, salicylates, and active vitamin D metabolites increase serum creatinine levels without altering the kidney function or glomerular filtration.


What Food Is Recommended for High Creatinine Levels?

Fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and adequate water intake are the recommended diet for increased creatinine levels.


What Fruit Is Good for Maintaining Creatinine Levels?

Grapes, apples, and cranberries are the fruits that can be taken when the creatinine level is increased because they have low potassium.
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Dr. Praveen Pushkar
Dr. Praveen Pushkar



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