Causes and Risk Factors

Why you may be more (or less) likely to get a kidney stone

While anyone can get a kidney stone, some people are more at risk. Stones are more common in men than women. Some ethnicities – such as non-Hispanic Caucasians – are affected at a higher rate. If you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to develop a stone. Diet and lifestyle may play a big role in the cause of your kidney stone as well. These are all key considerations when discussing your symptoms and diagnosis.


A kidney stone forms when substances in your urine become highly concentrated – which makes fluid intake one of the biggest contributing factors. If you do not drink enough water, you may put yourself at a higher risk for developing a stone.

Other possible causes include:

  • Exercise (too much or too little)
  • Family or personal history of kidney stones
  • Food with too much salt or sugar
  • Infections
  • Medications
  • Obesity
  • Weight-loss surgery

Risk Factors

You may be at an increased risk to develop a kidney stone if you have:

  • Blockage of your urinary tract
  • Chronic inflammation of your bowel
  • Cystic kidney disease – Disorder that causes fluid-filled sacs to form on your kidneys
  • Cystinuria – Condition in which your urine contains high levels of the amino acid cystine
  • Family history of kidney stones
  • Gout – Disorder that causes painful swelling of your joints.
  • History of gastrointestinal tract surgery
  • Hypercalciuria – Genetic condition in which your urine contains high levels of calcium
  • Hyperoxaluria – Condition in which your urine contains high levels of oxalate
  • Hyperparathyroidism – Condition in which the parathyroid glands in your neck release too many hormones, generating extra calcium in your blood
  • Hyperuricosuria – Condition in which your urine contains high levels of uric acid
  • Renal tubular acidosis – Disease in which your kidneys fail to excrete acids into urine, causing your blood to remain too acidic and the urine to be too alkaline

You may also have an elevated risk of kidney stones if you take certain medications, such as:

  • Calcium-based antacids
  • Diuretics – Medication that helps kidneys remove fluid from your body
  • Indinavir (Crixivan™) – Protease inhibitor used to treat HIV infection
  • Topiramate (Topamax™) – Anti-seizure medication