4 August 2022

The woman who mistook her Airpod for an ibuprofen

The Back Page

An unanticipated health hazard of using earbuds.


The health hazards posed by prolonged use of audio earbuds to listen to loud, bass-heavy music have been well documented.

But there are dangers posed by the ubiquitous in-ear headphones beyond the damage inflicted on hearing ability.

Such as swallowing an earbud after mistaking it for a pain-relief tablet. Which is exactly what one US-based young woman managed to do.

Luckily, she survived the ordeal and chose to overshare her experience, for “educational purposes”, via a TikTok video.   

Trust us, it’s painful to watch, so we can spare you the trauma and give you the upshot. 

“I was crawling into bed. I had Ibuprofen 800 in my right hand and I had my left AirPod in my left hand,” our victim explains.

“I like threw something back, took my water bottle and took a sip … then realised it wasn’t the Ibuprofen. I tried puking it up and it won’t come out.”

To add to the drama, the earbud was still connected to her smartphone as she was making a phone call to her friend. Which meant the voice memo she left included an array of “gurgling sounds” which we can assume was her stomach attempting to digest the foreign object.

That gastrointestinal bid failed in its task and the unfortunate earbud eventually rejoined the outside world via the usual course of events.

Our brave sufferer also shared the news that she would not be using that earbud again.

We would sincerely hope not. It’s been through a lot.

If you see something that has you despairing for humanity, penny@medicalrepublic.com.au wants to know all about it.