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Man Swallows AirPod While Sleeping, X-Rays Reveal Device Was Stuck in Esophagus

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A Massachusetts man went to bed watching a movie with his Apple AirPods — and woke up with one of the wireless headphones inside of him.


Worcester, Massachusetts resident Bradford Gauthier, who detailed his bizarre experience in The Guardian, went to bed watching the 80s sci-fi classic The Thing. He woke up in the middle of the night and went inside to take a sip of water. But the liquid wouldn’t go down, and he had to lean over to drain it from his throat, he explains.

“Still barely awake, I padded to the bathroom for a sip of water, but couldn’t swallow properly,” writes Gauthier. “My throat filled with water, but it wouldn’t go down – I had to lean over the sink and let the water drain out. It was bizarre and alarming, but I was so tired that I just went back to bed. In the morning, I checked again for the missing earbud, but it was nowhere to be seen. The “find my AirPod” function on my phone, which makes the headphones bleep, didn’t work as the batteries were flat.”

Gauthier’s son suggested that perhaps his father had swallowed the earbud, which is exactly what an X-ray at a local emergency clinic revealed. The small plastic device was lodged in his lower esophagus.

“Sure enough I had an AirPod lodged in the lower part of my esophagus,” Gauthier wrote. “I just had an emergency Endoscopy to get it removed.”

After retrieving the AirPod, it continued to work just fine.

“I tried it as soon as I got home. It works fine, although the microphone is less reliable than it was,” he says. “I’ll never know for certain how I managed to swallow it; my theory is that it dropped on to the pillow, ended up next to my mouth and got sucked in when I yawned. In retrospect, I’m glad the ‘find my AirPod’ attempt didn’t work – I would have freaked out if my throat had beeped.”

Gauthier said he never experienced more than minor discomfort. He said hat he wanted to share his experience to caution others not to sleep with their headphones.

“Be careful listening to wireless headphones when you fall asleep,” he warned on Facebook, “you never know where they’ll end up!”

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