Is it possible to tell if a wild mushroom is poisonous?
You can't tell for sure if a mushroom is poisonous by looking at it, unless you are an expert at identifying mushrooms. There are no tests to help you tell a poisonous mushroom from a nonpoisonous mushroom.
Does it help to see how the wild mushroom is growing?
Yes, a little. Mushrooms growing in the ground are more dangerous than mushrooms growing on living trees. Mushrooms on the ground in forests are usually more dangerous to people than mushrooms on lawns. See the drawing for some signs that a mushroom may be dangerous.
What are the symptoms of mushroom poisoning?
Early symptoms of mushroom poisoning include nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea (which is sometimes bloody). Symptoms may show up right after the mushroom was eaten or may appear several hours later. Typically, mushrooms that produce symptoms within 2 hours are less dangerous than mushrooms that produce symptoms later (after 6 hours).
What should I do if I think I have mushroom poisoning?
If you suspect that you or someone you are with has mushroom poisoning, call your doctor or the Poison Control Center. Call 911 immediately if the person is unconscious, not breathing or convulsing.
The phone number for the Poison Control Center is 1-800-222-1222. This number is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's a good idea to keep this number by your telephone at all times. You can also seek immediate medical attention by taking the person to the emergency room. If possible, bring a few of the mushrooms the person ate with you to the doctor or the emergency room.
What will happen in my doctor's office or the emergency room?
If the person has thrown up, the worst is probably over. Activated charcoal may be given to induce vomiting if vomiting has not already occurred. The person's temperature, heart rate and blood pressure will be checked. He or she will be watched closely for severe symptoms and complications due to mushroom poisoning. In severe cases that are caused by highly poisonous mushrooms, complications can include seizures, kidney and/or liver failure, and even death.
The person will probably be sent home if he or she has no symptoms of severe poisoning, and if the mushroom is identified as harmless. Your doctor will ask you to watch the person for any symptoms of mushroom poisoning for the next 24 hours.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff