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Are creatinine levels high due to a single kidney?

Thursday, 25 August 2005
Answered by: Dr. Naveen Atray
Asst. Professor of Medicine and Nephrologist,
Overton Brooks VA Medical Centre,
USA
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Q. My spouse has a single kidney. She recently got a kidney test done to check her creatinine levels, which showed that it was 1.3. Is the yardstick the same for people with one kidney when evaluating creatinine levels? What are the desirable creatinine levels in people with one kidney? Does excess exercising affect creatinine levels? Does thyroid, graves disease or synthroid have any effect on the kidney or its function? What steps should be taken to control high creatinine levels? What foods should be avoided or reduced to help? Are any dietary changes required? We started cooking in pure olive oil, which seems to have reduced the bulge or puffiness around the eyes (graves disease). Could the use of olive oil be related to the rise in creatinine level? Is it safe to use olive oil in people with thyroid and high creatinine levels?

A.  It is unclear why the person in question had to undergo kidney removal. In either case, serum creatinine level remains the marker of kidney function and how well do they clean the body of the metabolic wastes (regardless of single or both kidneys). When one kidney is removed (or absent), the remaining kidney hypertrophies (enlarges) to compensate for the lost kidney and enhances its cleaning capacity. Thus, it may result in insignificant rise in creatinine and may have no effect on overall health or longevity. It is important to know the disease that resulted in loss of the kidney so it does not affect the remaining kidney. Maintaining healthy life style, regular aerobic exercise, preventing obesity is the general advice for such patients. Additionally, periodic BP & blood sugar check to detect any hypertension/diabetes and urinalysis for proteinuria may be recommended. Exercise has no effect on level of creatinine but muscle mass does. People with higher muscle mass may have slightly higher, but physiologic rise in, creatinine, which is not abnormal. Olive oil, synthroid and Graves have no direct effect on creatinine levels. It may be prudent to advise moderate salt restriction and avoid excessive protein consumption (does not mean that protein intake should be cut down) but the scientific evidence to support the notion that it helps in preventing any deterioration or preserving kidney function is indirect.

A.  It is unclear why the person in question had to undergo kidney removal. In either case, serum creatinine level remains the marker of kidney function and how well do they clean the body of the metabolic wastes (regardless of single or both kidneys). When one kidney is removed (or absent), the remaining kidney hypertrophies (enlarges) to compensate for the lost kidney and enhances its cleaning capacity. Thus, it may result in insignificant rise in creatinine and may have no effect on overall health or longevity. It is important to know the disease that resulted in loss of the kidney so it does not affect the remaining kidney. Maintaining healthy life style, regular aerobic exercise, preventing obesity is the general advice for such patients. Additionally, periodic BP & blood sugar check to detect any hypertension/diabetes and urinalysis for proteinuria may be recommended. Exercise has no effect on level of creatinine but muscle mass does. People with higher muscle mass may have slightly higher, but physiologic rise in, creatinine, which is not abnormal. Olive oil, synthroid and Graves have no direct effect on creatinine levels. It may be prudent to advise moderate salt restriction and avoid excessive protein consumption (does not mean that protein intake should be cut down) but the scientific evidence to support the notion that it helps in preventing any deterioration or preserving kidney function is indirect.

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