Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Mushroom Poisoning in Children
Is it possible to tell if a wild mushroom is poisonous?
No. 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 than mushrooms on lawns. The characteristics shown below often indicate danger:
Signs that a mushroom may be poisonous
What are the symptoms of mushroom poisoning?
Early symptoms of mushroom poisoning include feeling sick, stomach cramps, vomiting and watery or bloody diarrhea. Symptoms may show up right after your child eats the mushroom, or may appear several hours later. If your child has any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away. Your child may need treatment.
What should be done if my child eats a wild mushroom?
Don't panic. There are thousands of kinds of mushrooms in North America. Only about 100 can hurt humans. If your child has eaten a wild mushroom, you can take several simple steps. Collect the mushrooms your child was eating. A few should be carefully dug up so that even the underground parts can be saved for identification. The whole mushroom can then be shown to your child's doctor, which might help your doctor know whether the mushroom was poisonous or not. If you find more than one kind of mushroom around your child, collect all of the different kinds that your child might have eaten.
What should be done next?
Call your family doctor to see if your child can be seen right away. If your doctor can't see your child right away, call the emergency department at your local hospital. They will ask you questions about your child and tell you what to do. Bring the mushrooms you collected to the emergency room. You can also get help from your local poison control center. Look up this number in your telephone book. It's a good idea to keep this number by your telephone at all times.
Should syrup of ipecac be given to children who may have eaten wild mushrooms?
Check with your child's doctor, the local poison control center or the hospital emergency room. If your child is alert and has not vomited, you might be told to give your child syrup of ipecac. First give your child several glasses of water or clear juice to drink. Then give the ipecac. Give 1 teaspoon to an infant, 1 tablespoon to children 1 to 12 years of age, and 2 tablespoons to children over 12 years of age. Your child should throw up everything in his or her stomach very soon after taking the ipecac. If he or she hasn't vomited within 20 minutes, give the same ipecac dose again.
What will happen in the emergency room?
If your child has thrown up, the worst is probably over. If he or she has not thrown up, your child may be given ipecac or activated charcoal in the emergency room. The physician will find a local mushroom expert to talk to. Your child's temperature, heart rate and blood pressure will be checked. He or she will be watched closely for signs of mushroom poisoning. If your child has no symptoms of mushroom poisoning after the ipecac has worn off, and if the mushroom is identified as harmless, you and your child will probably be sent home. Your doctor will ask you to watch your child for any symptoms of mushroom poisoning for the next 24 hours.