Man swallows AirPod while asleep - but gets it back and it still works

Doctor and patient were surprised when an x-ray showed where the AirPod was.
Doctor and patient were surprised when an x-ray showed where it was Photo credit: Getty Images

You might want to be careful if you go to bed with earbuds in after a US man woke to find he'd swallowed one of his Apple AirPods.

The good news is that not only did a doctor manage to get the errant earbud out, it still worked afterwards.

Bradford Gauthier of Massachusetts told The Guardian he had fallen asleep in bed while watching a movie, his usual night-time habit, and when he woke up the movie had finished.

"Groggily, I moved my phone off the pillow and removed the wireless AirPod headphone from one ear - the other had fallen out and I couldn't find it," he told the website.

The first clue that something wasn't quite right was when he went to the bathroom to get a sip of water but it wouldn't go down, something he found "bizarre and alarming".

Being very tired, he just went back to bed intent on resuming the search the next morning when he woke up.

He tried to use the 'find my AirPod' function on his phone the following day, which would give an audible noise to get some clue as to where the missing pod was - but the battery was dead so he heard nothing.

After searching the bedroom with his family, it was his son, Owen, who first raised the prospect of the AirPod having been swallowed.

"We all laughed, but a couple of minutes later, after another mouthful of water came straight back up, we started to wonder if he might be on to something," Gauthier said.

"I had also become aware of a faint pressure in the middle of my chest - just a mild discomfort, nothing that would usually have caused concern. But the evidence was starting to add up."

He headed to the local medical centre and was met with initial scepticism by the doctor, who thought he would have been in more pain had he swallowed an AirPod.

It was only after the precautionary x-ray showed the unmistakable shape of the missing earbud that the doctor became concerned.

"The AirPod seemed to be wedged firmly into the side of my oesophagus, but there was still a possibility it could block an airway," he said.

"There was also a slight possibility that the device might rupture, and I didn't want to try digesting a lithium-ion battery."

Gauthier was sedated at an endoscopy centre and the AirPod was retrieved using a tube and lasso - and he headed home with it in a "neat little bag".

There was only one question left to answer - did it still work?

"I tried it as soon as I got home," he said. "It works fine, although the microphone is less reliable than it was."

"In retrospect, I'm glad the 'find my AirPod' attempt didn't work - I would have freaked out if my throat had beeped," he added.