Our Drug and Poison Information Center receives many calls each year regarding mushroom exposures (73 calls in 2018 alone). Often, it is related to a child that picks up a mushroom or piece of a mushroom and puts it in their mouth. Usually these are mushrooms that have sprouted up in the backyard and are often referred to as field mushrooms. Often these mushrooms are associated with stomach upset and can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
We also occasionally get calls regarding people who have foraged for mushrooms. There are many toxic mushrooms that grow in the wild, particularly in wooded areas. Toxic mushrooms can look very similar to nontoxic mushrooms and as a result, it is very difficult to differentiate the different types of mushrooms, even for people who feel they are experienced mushroom foragers. Only an experienced mycologist could effectively differentiate between a toxic and nontoxic mushroom. This time of year, we often receive cases of patients who’ve foraged for mushrooms and eaten them and have become very ill. Some mushrooms can cause liver failure, kidney failure and other serious medical conditions as well as death. Because it is almost impossible to differentiate a nontoxic mushroom from a toxic mushroom, ones that grow wild should never be eaten.