What are the Causes of Low Creatinine Levels?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The causes of low creatinine levels include chronic conditions that lead to declines in creatinine production along with declines in muscle mass. Having lowered creatinine levels is not necessarily a cause for concern, although if the cause is not readily apparent, a doctor may request some additional medical testing to find out why the levels are low. This testing will be used to determine if a patient has an underlying condition that needs to be treated.

As they age, people may experience low creatinine levels along with the decline of muscle mass.
As they age, people may experience low creatinine levels along with the decline of muscle mass.

One of the most common causes is loss of muscle mass. This can occur naturally with aging, leading to lower creatinine levels in older adults. It can also be associated with wasting diseases, sudden weight loss, myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy, and injuries that force people to take bedrest. Any condition that leads to a decline in muscle mass can result in low creatinine levels.

Pregnancy is associated with low creatinine levels, as the process redirects nutrients to the developing baby.
Pregnancy is associated with low creatinine levels, as the process redirects nutrients to the developing baby.

Another reason can be a low protein diet. Creatinine is produced through the processing of protein and if a patient is eating unusually low levels of protein, the body will be making less creatinine. Pregnancy is also associated with low creatinine levels because of the redirection of nutrients to the baby. Even when a woman is eating a balanced diet with another nutrition for two, the levels of certain nutrients in her blood can be skewed because the developing fetus has such high energy and nutrition demands.

A blood test is used to determine creatinine levels.
A blood test is used to determine creatinine levels.

Advanced liver disease is also associated with low creatinine levels. Usually the liver disease is already known when low creatinine levels are observed, but the drop in creatinine levels can be an indicator that the disease is getting worse or that the liver is under stress. A doctor may request a liver enzyme panel, ultrasound examination of the liver, and other testing designed to assess liver function. These tests may show that the approach to treatment needs to be changed or that the patient is in need of a liver transplant.

A creatinine urine test is used to measure how much of this waste product is in the urine.
A creatinine urine test is used to measure how much of this waste product is in the urine.

Creatinine levels are determined with a blood test and lab analysis. Lab technicians will usually provide normal range references with lab results so that the results can be read and interpreted easily. If a doctor notes that creatinine levels are low, the patient's chart will be consulted for any obvious explanations. If nothing in the patient history explains the low levels, the doctor may ask the patient to consent to follow up testing with the goal of learning more about why the patient's creatinine levels are dropping.

Men generally have higher creatinine levels than women.
Men generally have higher creatinine levels than women.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

lighth0se33

@shell4life – I don't think you can make your creatinine levels decrease too much by consuming less protein. Low creatinine is actually a good thing, because it shows that your kidneys are doing fine. High creatinine would indicate a kidney problem.

You could run into other issues by lowering your protein intake, though. If you start to lose hair, feel fatigued all the time, and lose muscle, then you should probably increase the protein in your diet.

You probably already have a yearly creatinine test as part of an annual exam, since you are at risk for kidney disease. I would think that your doctor would be thrilled if your creatinine levels dropped.

shell4life

Right now, I have normal creatinine levels, but I am considering starting a low protein diet. I have heard that eating too much protein is hard on the kidneys, and since kidney disease runs in my family, I want to do all I can to protect mine.

Does eating little protein cause extremely low creatinine levels, or is it fairly safe to do? I don't want to go too extreme with it, and I plan to still consume chicken and fish. I do want to eliminate red meat from my diet, though.

Is it possible to harm myself by getting my creatinine levels too low? What signs should I look out for?

wavy58

@anon135823 – Having low creatinine levels does put a person at risk for type 2 diabetes. My uncle had low creatinine levels for years, and he eventually became diabetic.

I know that inactivity can lead to diabetes, and since it also would lead to muscle wasting, I can see how it could cause both low creatinine levels and the onset of diabetes. My uncle used to exercise, but after his wife died, he lost all interest in maintaining his health, so he got fat and slothful.

His doctor had been warning him for years that he was pushing himself toward diabetes. The low creatinine levels were a big indicator of this.

anon135823

This article says that lower levels of creatinine is due to chronic conditions. is Diabetes one of those chronic conditions?

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