How To Handle Mushroom Poisoning

If you are foraging for mushrooms, only take ones that you are sure are okay to eat. However, if you happen to be poisoned by mushrooms, you must act quickly.

Dr. Natalie

Occupational Pathologist

Different mushrooms mean different poisons

The toxins of mushrooms are mostly proteins or their shortened versions — peptides, but they are different for each poisonous species. So it's hard to make a general antidote for mushroom poisoning. Mushroom poisoning can result in a range of issues including mild digestive distress, severe toxic liver, and kidney damage, and, in some cases, death.

Pale toadstool and panther fly agaric mushrooms can be fatal, while red fly agaric mushrooms and strokes can cause severe poisoning.

Be careful when selecting mushrooms

All mushrooms contain fiber chitin, which is poorly digested by the gastrointestinal tract, so doctors do not recommend including them in the diet of children under 6 years of age. Additionally, adults with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and kidney should avoid them.

Other considerations

If the mushrooms are old and have begun to decompose they form peptides, which are products of protein degradation.

The same thing can happen to young robust mushrooms if they have been in the heat or the sun for several hours.

Avoid picking mushrooms within 1600 feet of roads, airfields, and in urban areas. This is because mushrooms can absorb ions of heavy metals. This is especially true of Paxillus, which are on the list of poisonous and inedible mushrooms. Consuming Paxillus often can accumulate a dangerous dose of toxins, which is dangerous for the kidneys and liver.

There is no way to detect a poisonous mushroom during cooking. It is always better to know ahead of time that the mushroom being cooked is safe to consume.

Signs of poisoning

The first signs appear 6–9 hours after consuming. The most severe poisoning is when symptoms are delayed for 12 hours or more. The most common symptoms people experience are:

  • Upset stomach, cramps, and abdominal pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Weakness, cold sweat
  • Dry mouth, excruciating thirst
  • Dizziness, hallucinations, lethargy, rapid and irregular pulse, low blood pressure

What to do

Before the first symptoms of malaise, toxins have already had time to spread through the body. After the already familiar symptoms of food poisoning comes the serious stage, which can include fever, acute liver or hepatic and renal failure. It is important to go to the ER as soon as you experience any of these symptoms. While you wait, do the following:

  • Drink 3–4 glasses of water and induce vomiting to cleanse the stomach
  • Take 50g of activated charcoal (or other sorbents)
  • Drink small sips of slightly warm, salted water to restore fluid and salt balance

30 August 2021

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