King-Kopetzky Syndrome 101

King-Kopetzky syndrome is an obscure auditory dysfunction or auditory processing disorder. Auditory means “related to hearing”. This disorder is relatively understudied, but affects about ten percent of all patients who seek medical treatment for hearing problems. Adults, older children and adolescents are particularly affected.

What is King Kopetzky Syndrome

If a patient with hearing problems receives medical treatment, the examination is usually carried out by an ENT doctor or a doctor specializing in pediatric audiology.

The King-Kopetzky syndrome (short for KKS) belongs to the clinical picture of auditory processing and perception disorders. Physicians divide the ability to understand hearing into auditory perception and auditory processing of information. If central processes of hearing are disturbed, changes in time, intensity or frequency of acoustic information may not be properly analyzed and processed.  See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to King-Kopetzky Syndrome.

In this case, noises are only imprecisely localized or background noises are not suppressed. The King-Kopetzky syndrome specifically describes a malfunction with poorer speech understanding in the presence of background noise. The syndrome is named after Samuel J. Kopetzky and PF King, who first studied the disorder further in the early 1950s.


The causes of King-Kopetzky syndrome have not been finally clarified. Both organic and genetic, as well as psychological influencing factors are suspected. Since familial accumulation of the syndrome can be observed, inheritance cannot be ruled out. An example of a psychological trigger of the syndrome is auditory stress.

The sensitive inner ear is exposed to a wide variety of acoustic demands on a daily basis and reacts very sensitively as an early indicator of various diseases. For example, latent nocturnal aircraft noise or the traffic noise of a nearby motorway can mean acoustic stress which, if the condition persists, can manifest itself as a processing and perception disorder or other ear disease. It is striking that a large proportion of those affected also experience psychological abnormalities such as an increased level of social anxiety or obsessive -compulsive disorders.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Those affected by King-Kopetzky syndrome describe impairments in hearing and understanding speech, especially when there is background noise at the same time. Various partial performances of auditory perception can be affected individually or in combination. For example, the ability to spatially classify and localize the speaker’s sound source can be impaired.

Deficits in auditory selection mean that patients are unable to filter out the spoken information from all the everyday noises that occur at the same time (conversations between other people, the operating noise of machines and fans, etc.). At school, for example, children with an auditory selection disorder have difficulty filtering sounds out of words in noisy surroundings and understanding what the teacher is saying. Likewise, the perception and processing problems can occur with similar-sounding tones.

Diagnosis & course of disease

If a patient with hearing problems receives medical treatment, the examination is usually carried out by an ENT doctor or a doctor specializing in pediatric audiology. First of all, acute organic causes such as an inflammation of the middle ear or auditory canal are examined by means of an ear mirror (otoscopy). The diagnosis also includes a detailed discussion about the symptoms and previous illnesses.

If a peripheral hearing disorder, i.e. direct damage to the ear, has been ruled out, various hearing tests are carried out. In the clinical picture described, those affected show slight abnormalities in many parts of the hearing system, mostly in the inner ear, in the tone audiogram. Furthermore, a questionnaire is filled out to record the “Social Hearing Handicap Index” (SHHI), which results in abnormal values ​​in this clinical picture.

Hypersensitivity to noise has also developed in many of those affected, which causes protective behavior to increase as the disease progresses. If the disease remains untreated, difficulties arise for those affected, especially if mental abnormalities, as mentioned above, occur at the same time. Patients who suffer from social anxiety and have difficulty understanding language quickly become socially isolated.

Furthermore, auditory processing and perception disorders are often associated with language development delays, reading and spelling weaknesses and attention disorders. Those affected cannot perceive the sounds of speech correctly and therefore cannot reproduce them correctly. It is therefore essential to aim for the earliest possible diagnosis, especially in children and adolescents, in order to be able to promote further development accordingly.


The King-Kopetzky syndrome mainly causes complaints and disorders of hearing. These can significantly limit the everyday life of those affected and further reduce the quality of life. Likewise, there are problems with understanding and hearing speech, so that normal communication is usually not possible for the person concerned

The King-Kopetzky syndrome can thus also increase certain risks in life, since dangers may not be recognized in time. It is not uncommon, especially in children, for developmental and concentration disorders to occur. Those affected continue to suffer from inflammation in the ear or in the auditory canal. In the worst case, this can lead to complete hearing loss.

Children can also suffer from language development disorders and attention disorders. The treatment of King-Kopetzky syndrome is causal and symptomatic. In many cases, the underlying disease can no longer be restricted and the patient is dependent on various therapies so that there are no complications in everyday life. As a rule, a hearing aid can compensate for the complaints relatively well.

When should you go to the doctor?

People who notice hearing impairments should consult a doctor. If there are other symptoms, such as problems processing what has been said or neurological deficits, the symptoms must be taken to an ear specialist or ENT specialist on the same day. The doctor can rule out acute causes and make the diagnosis. People who are repeatedly exposed to auditory stress are particularly likely to develop King-Kopetzky syndrome. The same applies to people who suffer from social anxiety or other psychological problems.

Previous diseases of the inner ear can also lead to the development of King-Kopetzky syndrome. If you belong to one of these risk groups, it is best to consult the responsible doctor immediately and have the symptoms clarified. Affected children must be taken to the pediatrician. If left untreated, auditory dysfunction will progress and eventually lead to communication problems and other complications. Anyone who notices signs of a disorder in the auditory abilities of a relative or friend should arrange for a medical evaluation.

Treatment & Therapy

King-Kopetzky syndrome can be treated in a number of ways, depending on the assumed cause. According to numerous scientific studies, targeted functional auditory training to improve phonological awareness has a positive effect on the ability to differentiate between sounds. Ideally, this also results in an increase in performance in the case of reading and spelling weaknesses.

If there are underlying psychological causes and the disease is accompanied by other neurological symptoms, coordinated treatment with a psychotherapist or psychiatrist is also recommended . Holistic behavioral therapy concepts in connection with stress reduction and the administration of medication support the recovery process and help to reduce anxious tension.

In group situations, in addition to listening attentively, you also practice, for example, asking questions if you don’t understand or creating mnemonics. A specific coping strategy is often recommended. In the case of hearing difficulties, those affected should consciously use additional, inaudible sources of information and, for example, read lips at the same time. If a measurable hearing loss is determined during the hearing test, therapy can also recommend the use of a hearing aid if necessary.

Outlook & Forecast

Since King-Kopetzky syndrome often occurs in connection with anxiety and obsessive -compulsive disorders, those affected should first clarify whether they have them. If this is the case, targeted psychotherapy can bring great success and at the same time improve the existing perception and processing disorders.

Auditory stress such as construction noise, loud music, but also screaming children, can trigger the disease and make it worse if the noise is renewed. In everyday life it is often difficult to escape from the surrounding noise, so it is important to ensure the necessary quiet, at least in your private environment. The installation of multiple soundproof windows can be a remedy, but must be agreed with the landlord in the case of rental properties. If you do not want to miss out on going to concerts or similar events, hearing protection must be purchased in consultation with your doctor.

It is often much more difficult for affected children and young people to avoid auditory stress, as they naturally act louder during their leisure activities. A conversation with the teachers enables the children to spend their breaks inside the school, protected from noise. Furthermore, the teachers can try to keep the noise level low during the lesson. Regular examinations also make it possible to check whether a modern hearing aid could lead to a significant alleviation of the symptoms.


The potential causes of King-Kopetzky Syndrome have not been adequately studied and understood. Direct preventive measures can therefore not be formulated. This applies in particular if the suspicion that the clinical picture is hereditary is confirmed. The only preventive measures that can be taken are the recommendation of a holistically healthy lifestyle and the avoidance of stress.


In most cases, the aftercare measures for King-Kopetzky syndrome are severely limited or, in some cases, are not available to the person affected. In the case of this disease, a doctor must first and foremost be consulted very early on, so that no further complications or symptoms can occur. Early diagnosis usually has a very positive effect on the further course of the disease and can also prevent further deterioration of the symptoms.

Most of those affected are dependent on psychological treatment for King Kopetzky syndrome. The support of friends and family is often very important in order to prevent a further deterioration in the mental state. If you have hearing problems, you should definitely wear a hearing aid to prevent further damage to the ear canal.

In general, the help and support of one’s own family has a very positive effect on the further course of the King-Kopetzky syndrome. If the person concerned wishes to have children, a genetic examination and counseling can also be carried out. This can prevent the disease from recurring in those affected.

You can do that yourself

The causes of King-Kopetzky syndrome have not yet been finally clarified. However, the syndrome has a striking association with obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety. Patients who suffer from King Kopetzky syndrome and are mentally ill at the same time should definitely have these diseases treated. There is a good chance that auditory processing and perceptual disorders will also improve significantly at the same time.

In addition, auditory stress can not only trigger King-Kopetzky syndrome, it can also aggravate it. Those affected would therefore do well to avoid noise as much as possible. Loud music, screaming children and construction noise are considered to be particularly harmful. These stressors should be avoided. This is not always easy, especially for children and young people who interact with their peers.

If the syndrome allows them to attend a normal school, the teachers should be informed about the disorder and allow the children affected to spend the usually particularly noisy breaks in a protected area. It is also helpful if the noise level is kept at a low level during lessons, which not only benefits the sick child, but ultimately all students. In any case, those affected should also check whether their hearing problems can be improved with a modern hearing aid, which is often the case.


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