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Leave Mushroom Hunting to the Experts

In some instances, eating a single mushroom can be deadly. 

After abundant rainfall, mushrooms pop up in yards, playgrounds and other locations. Of the thousands of different species, only a few are edible. However, identifying edible mushrooms is difficult. Even mushroom experts have to look for tiny differences in appearance to determine which mushrooms are safe to eat. There is no good way to distinguish edible mushrooms from poisonous toadstools. 

In most cases of human mushroom poisoning, the mushrooms were misidentified. 

The simplest way to prevent mushroom poisoning is to leave the wild mushroom hunting to the experts and consume only commercially grown mushrooms found in the grocery store. 

Points to remember

  • Cooking, canning, freezing, or other processing does not destroy the toxins that make mushrooms poisonous.

  • Mushrooms growing next to each other may be totally different.

  • Symptoms of mushroom poisoning may be delayed.

  • If possible, carefully dig up a few mushrooms, complete with underground parts, and place in a paper bag, cup, or small box, and refrigerate until you can take them to the emergency room.

  • If a mushroom causes vomiting, save any vomited mushroom parts in a paper bag. Storing in a plastic bag destroys mushrooms and makes identification impossible.

  • If possible, take a photograph of the mushroom that was eaten.

  • All ingestion of wild mushrooms requires prompt medical attention. 

Call your physician immediately if you suspect a wild mushroom has been eaten. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning range from simple stomach upset with vomiting and diarrhea to fatal liver and kidney failure. Symptoms may occur within six hours or delayed one to two days. No known antidotes exist for mushroom poisoning, but good supportive medical care is usually effective if started promptly.

Online Medical Reviewer: McClintock, Heidi, RD, LD
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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