Man Undergoes Surgery After Swallowing AirPod in His Sleep

A man from Massachusetts has warned AirPods users not to wear them while sleeping, after he swallowed one overnight and woke up struggling to breathe.

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Brad Gauthier, 38, from Worcester, had to go to hospital after the incident, which left him gagging as he tried to drink a glass of water the next morning.

The blockage caused his throat to fill up with water as he tried to drink, and made him feel as though he was choking.

Gauthier was able to eject the water by leaning over, but despite the strange sensation in his chest, he initially ignored it and went outside to shovel snow from his driveway following a blizzard.

But when he went back inside, Gauthier noticed that one of his AirPods was missing, leading his wife to joke that he had swallowed it in the night.

"We laughed about it, but something just clicked and I got a weird sinking feeling that I'd swallowed it in my sleep," he told The Mail Online

"At that point, I putzed around for another 10 minutes thinking about it but we all determined it'd be better safer than sorry to go to hospital."

Hospital staff first suggested it might be heartburn caused by food from his wife's birthday party the night before. However, X-rays revealed the missing AirPod wedged firmly inside his throat. 

Doctors performed an emergency endoscopy, using a long, thin tube to remove the two-inch earbud from his oesophagus, but Gauthier was pre-warned of a possibility that this could cause the device to become dislodged and enter his stomach or lung passageway.

Fortunately, he emerged fine after the operation. The AirPod, however, was left with a broken microphone.

Gauthier said the earbud must have fallen out of his ear and into his mouth during the night, and the results could have been much worse.

"Had I inhaled it or it had gotten lodged or constricted my airway that could have certainly been a significantly more serious matter," Gauthier said.

"You don't have a lot of runway if you obstruct your breathing and something happens, who would even think that's what it was if you wake up to something like that."

"I'm really lucky things happened the way they did and got it resolved so quickly, along with it being wedged in the position that it was."

It isn't the first time someone has accidentally swallowed an AirPod. In January 2020, a seven-year-old boy from Georgia swallowed one and had to wait for it to pass, after it settled into his stomach.

And in 2019, a man in Taiwan had a similar accident, though the AirPod in question somehow still worked after it later re-emerged.

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