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Do you know that standard urine drug tests also check on one’s level of creatinine concentration? Normal creatinine levels help show that the urine sample is not diluted. How about if somebody’s urine drug test results indicate low creatinine levels? Read on to know what low creatinine levels mean in urine drug tests.

What is creatinine?

Creatinine is a byproduct of muscle metabolism. It usually appears in urine in relatively constant quantities over 24 hours with the usual amount of liquid intake. Then, it is filtered out of the blood through the kidneys at a reasonably steady rate. Hence, there is a continual production of creatinine and a continual excretion of it in the urine. 

In general, limited water intake can lead to abnormally concentrated urine, resulting in elevated creatinine levels.

Conversely, a more significant than usual water intake will dilute the amount of drug in the urine sample, thus, yielding low creatinine levels.

What are the various creatinine levels?

The normal level of creatinine in urine is from 60 mg/dL to 300 mg/dL.

The Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has set the guidelines below:

Dilute urine creatinine: equal to or greater than 2.0 mg/dL and less than 20 mg/dL Most likely due to increased water or liquid intake. This can be a result of short-term water loading (flushing) in an attempt to dilute any drug below testing cut-off concentrations

Abnormally dilute urine creatinine: <2.0 mg/dL. In this case, the specimen shows a deficient creatinine value. It may be an indication that the specimen is not consistent with normal human urine.

When the urine sample is too diluted, the results are normally labeled as “inconclusive.”

 

What causes low creatinine levels in the urine?

Intentional and Accidental Urine Dilution

Intentional dilution of urine happens when a person purposefully alters the chemical composition of his urine sample. For example, a person is doing it intentionally if he drinks excessive amounts of water or takes diuretics to flush out the metabolites or byproducts of the drugs consumed before testing.

Adulteration is also an example of urine dilution. It involves adding water or some products like bleaching agents and detergents to the urine sample.

However, urine dilution can also be unintentional. Low creatinine levels can occur when any of the following conditions are present:

  • Muscle disease (muscle weakness, stiffness, and pain; decline in mobility)
  • Muscular dystrophy involves progressive loss of muscle mass and consequent loss of stamina
  • Poor liver function (jaundice, pale, bloodied tar-colored stool)
  • Excessive water loss
  • Low muscle mass due to malnutrition/low-meat or low-protein diet)
  • Kidney disease/stones

What do low creatinine levels mean in urine drug tests?

Getting low creatinine levels may indicate that the person tested tried to mask his urine drug test result. Moreover, he may have other health issues which he needs to address.

Summing up, establishing the creatinine levels in drug-abuse testing helps validate the urine specimen used and the testing results.

Check out Ovus Medical’s 12 panel drug test with adulterants to detect low creatinine levels.