Kidney stones form when the components of urine — fluid and various minerals and acids — are out of balance. When this happens, your urine contains more crystal-forming substances, such as calcium and uric acid, than the available fluid can dilute. At the same time, your urine may be short of substances that keep crystals from sticking together and becoming stones. Kidney stones are also prone to develop in highly acidic or highly alkaline urine.
Problems in the way your system absorbs and eliminates calcium and other substances create the conditions for kidney stones to form. Sometimes, the underlying cause is an inherited metabolic disorder or kidney disease. Gout promotes specific types of kidney stones, as does inflammatory bowel disease. So do some drugs, including furosemide (Lasix), used in treating heart failure and high blood pressure; topiramate (Topamax), an anti-seizure drug; and indinavir (Crixivan), which is used to treat human immunodeficiency virus, the cause of AIDS.
It's common, however, for kidney stones to have no definite, single cause. A number of factors, often in combination, create the conditions in which susceptible people develop kidney stones.