Mushroom Poisoning

Mushroom poisoning, or technically mycetism, is poisoning by poisonous mushrooms. In most cases, incorrect knowledge of forest mushrooms leads to confusion between edible mushrooms and toadstools, which are then eaten. Typical symptoms of poisoning then occur, such as severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. In case of suspicion, a doctor should always be consulted as soon as possible.

Mushroom Poisoning

What is mushroom poisoning?

If you eat mushrooms that are poisonous or harmful to your health, you can get mushroom poisoning, which is technically called mycetism. This is due to fungal toxins, which can cause severe symptoms of poisoning even in the smallest amounts. The main symptoms of mushroom poisoning are severe nausea, cardiovascular problems and dizziness. Mushroom poisoning can be fatal, so quick first aid and immediate medical treatment are extremely important. See dictionaryforall for Kabuki Syndrome in Dictionary.


How do you get mushroom poisoning ? People who collect mushrooms themselves in the forest are particularly at risk. Laypersons can usually not distinguish digestible edible mushrooms from poisonous mushrooms. Mushroom poisoning is caused by fungal toxins found in things like fly agaric and death cap mushrooms.

There are about 10,000 species of mushrooms in the forest. Of these, however, only 1000 are really digestible, but they are difficult to distinguish from the poisonous ones. However, you can also catch mushroom poisoning by eating raw, spoiled, or reheated mushrooms.

How often and how many people suffer from mushroom poisoning on average is not known, because not every case is reported to poison control centers and there is also no central reporting office in Germany just for mushroom poisoning. However, it is said that around ten percent of all reported poisonings are caused by mushrooms.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Depending on the type of toxin ingested, mushroom poisoning can cause very different symptoms within a few hours to ten days. The most common are disorders of the digestive tract, typical are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and severe abdominal pain. Sweating, attacks of dizziness, tachycardia, breathing difficulties and balance disorders are also characteristic. Some fungal toxins trigger states of confusion and impaired perception.

The majority of fungal poisonings are comparatively harmless and heal after overcoming the gastrointestinal symptoms without any consequential damage. In individual cases, such as poisoning by the highly toxic death cap mushroom, massive functional restrictions of the liver occur after a temporary phase of improvement: in addition to some non-specific symptoms such as loss of performance, tiredness and loss of appetite and a recurrence of gastrointestinal symptoms, yellow discoloration of the skin is indicated and eyes (icterus) indicate the onset of liver decomposition.

Internal bleeding is possible due to a blood clotting disorder. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, the blood test shows a more or less strong increase in the substances that are excreted in the urine and in the liver enzymes. Poisoning with some species of veil worms can manifest itself after up to 14 days with nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle and joint pain and chills – severe thirst and increased urge to urinate in the further course indicate massive kidney damage.

course of the disease

What happens when you have mushroom poisoning ? Depending on which mushroom toxins and how much of them you have eaten, symptoms can be severe and even fatal within minutes, or it can take several days for symptoms to become visible and noticeable.

The symptoms of mushroom poisoning are varied, and those affected often suffer from diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, impaired perception, shortness of breath and sweating.

These symptoms can appear quite quickly, within half an hour, or even after a few days. Of course, food allergies or food intolerances must be distinguished from mushroom poisoning.


Mushroom poisoning caused by improper preparation or the consumption of mildly poisonous mushrooms resembles a gastrointestinal upset in its symptoms and usually heals within a few days without complications. Since the course cannot be foreseen in the early stages, a doctor should always be consulted if you feel unwell after consuming mushrooms.

Mushroom poisoning can be life-threatening if poisonous death cap mushrooms have been eaten: Complications such as liver failure, kidney failure and internal bleeding only occur days later after an initial improvement, and even rapid medical intervention is not always successful. Survivors often suffer from severe kidney failure and are often dependent on dialysis for life. Liver failure may require a liver transplant.

The venom of some veilworms can also cause life-threatening kidney damage, which can only be treated with permanent dialysis or a kidney transplant. Some mushrooms, such as fly agaric or panther mushroom, have a strong toxic effect on the nervous system.

After psychological symptoms such as speech disorders, hallucinations and general restlessness, a fatal respiratory arrest occurs without medical treatment. Other complications of mushroom poisoning include tachycardia, high blood pressure, profuse sweating, circulatory problems and shortness of breath – with some types of mushrooms, these symptoms are intensified or even triggered by the simultaneous consumption of alcohol.

When should you go to the doctor?

A doctor should always be consulted in the event of mushroom poisoning. In the worst case, mushroom poisoning leads to death or other serious complications that can cause significant damage to internal organs. In emergencies, an ambulance should be called or you should go straight to the hospital. The earlier mushroom poisoning is diagnosed and treated, the more likely a positive course of the disease and complete recovery.

As a rule, the doctor should be consulted if the person concerned feels severe pain in the stomach and has digestive problems after eating mushrooms. This can also lead to breathing difficulties or tachycardia, and some sufferers lose consciousness. Sweating or panic attacks can also indicate mushroom poisoning and should be examined by a doctor if these symptoms occur after eating mushrooms. Flu-like symptoms also often occur, which can indicate the disease. In many cases, patients also suffer from vomiting or diarrhea. If the stomach problems do not go away on their own, a doctor must be consulted.

Mushroom poisoning can be treated by a general practitioner or in a hospital. In most cases, the course of the disease is positive.

Treatment & Therapy

How is mushroom poisoning treated by a doctor? In addition to the symptoms of poisoning just described, damage to the kidneys and liver can also occur, which can then become life-threatening. It is therefore important to tell the doctor treating you that you have eaten mushrooms in order to be able to differentiate the symptoms from food poisoning, for example.

It would be ideal if you still have leftovers of the fungus or vomit so that the doctors can determine more quickly what type of mushroom poisoning it is. Treatment with home remedies is absolutely not recommended! Depending on the severity of the poisoning, only the symptoms are treated.

For severe poisoning, the stomach is flushed or pumped out and activated charcoal is given to remove the fungal toxin from the body. Depending on which fungal toxin caused the symptoms, there are also antidotes.

When picking mushrooms, you should therefore pay attention to certain things. You should only take mushrooms that you really know. When in doubt, mushrooms should be left standing. Mushroom identification books or advice from a trained mushroom adviser are helpful. The collected mushrooms should be transported in an airy container, and not, for example, in plastic bags.

If you are inexperienced, you should only pick mushrooms from the boletus family. These have what is called a sponge or hat and are usually non-toxic. When cooking, care should be taken not to cook the mushrooms for more than 15-20 minutes.

Outlook & Forecast

True mushroom poisoning can be fatal in a very short time. The more poisonous the mushroom, the worse the prognosis. Prompt medical treatment is essential to prevent serious physical damage.

Secondary mushroom poisoning is unpleasant, but far less dangerous for the body. Most secondary mushroom poisonings heal without consequences. The symptoms can last for several days and make the affected person very weak.

The later the symptoms of poisoning appear, the longer the poison can act in the body. The risk of permanent organ damage increases. In the event of damage to internal organs, outpatient follow-up treatment is mandatory. The same applies if the patient is completely powerless due to mushroom poisoning. Regular follow-up checks reduce the risk of permanent functional restrictions on internal organs.

In order to support the success of the treatment, fasting is recommended. The digestive system should be spared and relieved for as long as possible. A diet should be built up slowly, preferably with easily digestible bland foods. Dairy products should be avoided. If the mushroom poisoning led to diarrhea, then the fluid loss must be compensated.

With timely treatment and absolute protection, complete healing can be expected.


The goal of aftercare is basically to prevent the recurrence of a disease and thereby avert life-threatening consequences. It is known, for example, from tumor diseases. Doctor and patient arrange regular check-up appointments for this purpose. After a first mushroom poisoning, however, these preventive measures are the sole responsibility of the patient.

He refrains from collecting and consuming unknown types of mushrooms. This provides adequate protection against recurrence. Furthermore, aftercare can aim at long-term treatment. It is always necessary when an illness does not subside at all or does not subside for months or years. However, these scenarios are generally exceptional.

Mushroom poisoning treated early usually does not require follow-up care. The patient can go on with his life without restrictions. There is no medical reason for further treatment given the absence of symptoms. In contrast, consequential damage rarely remains. These primarily affect the liver and kidneys.

This results in regular further treatments and examinations. They are used for the early detection of complications. In some cases, a transplant may even be necessary. In addition to imaging procedures, doctors resort to blood tests. The rhythm of aftercare depends on the individual complaints.

You can do that yourself

Mushroom poisoning is a medical emergency that usually requires immediate medical attention. However, a certain amount of time can elapse between the consumption of the mushrooms and the appearance of the first symptoms. Edible mushrooms can also lead to problems if they were already spoiled during preparation.

It is important for self-help to initiate medical measures as early as possible if there is even the slightest suspicion of mushroom poisoning. Even before a doctor or the nearest hospital is visited, a call to the poison control center can be useful. Because there are toxicologists, as trained experts for symptoms of poisoning, answering questions.

If you go to the doctor or hospital, it is advisable to take the leftover mushroom meal with you. Because based on the mushroom components, it is usually quickly recognizable whether it is a real toadstool or a spoiled mushroom meal. In the case of the very poisonous death cap mushroom, a symptom-free period of several hours can even occur, but nerves and organs are already being permanently and irreversibly damaged during this important time window. Even after the symptoms have subsided, it is still advisable to see a doctor or emergency doctorto consult. At the latest when manifest symptoms such as clouding of consciousness, increased pulse, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea or gastrointestinal cramps occur, a doctor or a hospital should be consulted immediately. In addition, toxicologists advise not to provoke vomiting if mushroom poisoning is suspected.