As the saying goes, "There are OLD mushroom hunters and there are BOLD mushroom hunters, but there are no OLD BOLD mushroom hunters!" So know your mushrooms if you are one who enjoys hunting morel mushrooms in the springtime!

In the grocery store you can find edible types of mushrooms such as button, portobello and shiitake mushrooms. But where people get into trouble is when they go foraging the woods and eat mushrooms they think they know. Each year U.S. Poison Centers manage over 10,000 exposures to mushrooms. Luckily the majority of these have a good outcome, but toxic mushrooms do exist.

In general if symptoms such as nausea and vomiting are seen within the first three hours after ingestion, that type of mushroom has relatively low toxicity. One type of mushroom called Coprine, also known as Inky Cap, can cause flushing, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and headache when eaten with alcohol.  Psilocybin mushrooms are also called hallucinogenic mushrooms since they cause hallucinations. Sometimes after a lot of rain you might see mushrooms growing in your yard.  We usually call these “little brown mushrooms” or “LBMs”. If a child accidentally ingests part of this type of mushroom, you might see nausea, vomiting and diarrhea one to three hours after ingestion or nothing at all.

When symptoms are seen six or more hours after ingestion there is concern of a more poisonous variety. Symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, headache, seizures, and changes in the blood chemistries.  One very toxic type of mushroom is called "Death Cap" or Amanita phylloides.  This type of mushroom can cause liver failure.  Another very toxic type of mushroom is the species Cortinarius, also known as "Deadly Webcap".  This poisonous mushroom can cause kidney failure and has delayed onset of symptoms which may be seen 36 hours up to fourteen days after ingestion. Death has also occurred from ingestion of poisonous mushrooms.

Mushrooms can be identified by a mushroom specialist called a mycologist. Generally this is a difficult process that takes time and involves expert analysis and interpretation of the mushroom's spore print. Specialists in poison information from the Indiana Poison Center can guide you through an ingestion, so never hesitate to call 1-800-222-1222 for a mushroom exposure.


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