Can you get sick from eating mushrooms?

In this short article, we are going to answer the question, “Can you get sick from eating mushrooms?”. Moreover, we will review the different types of mushrooms, the effects of mushroom poisoning, symptoms associated with mushroom poisoning and ways to prevent it. 

Can you get sick from eating mushrooms?

Yes, you can get sick from eating mushrooms. It is because not all mushrooms are edible and certain species of mushrooms can cause severe mushroom poisoning. Moreover, some people can be allergic to even those wild mushrooms that are perfectly edible.

Mushrooms are rich in nutrients and have a pleasant taste, however, it is not always possible to effectively distinguish between edible and non-edible mushrooms, which can cause poisoning and other ill effects. It is advisable, not to eat those mushrooms you know nothing about. 

Different types of mushrooms

  • Edible mushrooms:

Edible mushrooms are the type of mushrooms that have fruiting bodies, large enough to be seen by the naked eye. These mushrooms can be easily picked up by hand and are safe for consumption and have no side effects on humans. 

Edible mushrooms have a high nutritional content. They are used as a delicacy or garnish that can be consumed regularly as part of the diet. Infact, edible mushrooms are found as a major ingredient in most of the food supplements.

Edible mushrooms are sweet to taste and have a pleasant odour. 

  • Poisonous mushrooms:

Poisonous mushrooms constitute approximately 1% of the known mushrooms. These types of mushrooms contain toxins that can be dangerous and fatal for consumption. 

For this reason, mushrooms should never be consumed without enough evidence of their edibility. One must be completely sure before consumption, whether a certain kind of mushroom is edible or not. 

Poisonous mushrooms are bitter in taste, burn your tongue and have a bad odour. There are different toxins with different chemical compositions present in different poisonous species of mushrooms.

Nutritional status of mushrooms 

Although different species of mushrooms have a different chemical composition, mushrooms have a high nutritional content, in general. They have a high amount of carbohydrates, fats, essential vitamins (vitamin B1, B2, folacine, vitamin D), and proteins (21-50%). In addition, most mushrooms have a high moisture content ranging from 70% to 93%. 

What is mushroom poisoning?

Mushroom poisoning is caused by eating poisonous mushrooms that contain deadly toxins such as amatoxins, gyromitrin, ibotenic acid, orellanine, and muscimol. The most common poisonous mushroom is the yellow staining mushroom that can be easily misinterpreted due to its extreme similarity with the field mushrooms.

The failure of mushroom gatherers or mushroom scientists to detect and separate dangerous mushrooms, which contain toxins and can be very harmful to human health, is the biggest issue that arises from consuming mushrooms.

Symptoms associated with mushroom poisoning

Symptoms that are associated with mushroom poisoning can appear immediately after the consumption of mushrooms or within several hours. These include:

  • Red and warm face and abdomen
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Stomach pains
  • Diarrhoea (may be bloody)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache and dizziness

More severe symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • seizures
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • liver/kidney failure
  • Coma and/or death

Effects of poisonous mushrooms

Poisonous mushrooms have three major effects:

  • Hallucinations: 

Toxins found in certain mushroom species cause hallucinations. The term “magic mushrooms” is used to describe these psychoactive types of mushrooms. A species known as the golden top (Psilocybe subaeruginosa) is one of the well-known species that is known to cause hallucinations. 

For example, the Amanita muscaria.

Other signs include muscle weakness, headache, increased heart rate, agitation, and confusion.

  • Gastrointestinal illness:

Many poisonous mushrooms cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and stomach cramps, among other symptoms.

  • Liver failure and death:

The death cap (Amanita phalloides) mushroom is responsible for approximately 9 out of 10 fungi-related deaths. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pains are among the symptoms that appear 6 to 24 hours after eating. The toxin can kill you if it gets into your liver or kidneys and can lead to death in as little as 48 hours.

Other ill-effects include: respiratory failure, neurotoxicity, and destruction of blood cells.

How to prevent mushroom poisoning? 

To prevent mushroom poisoning, the following measures can be taken:

  • Always boil wild mushrooms, and be aware of any additional precautions, such as whether they may react with alcohol.
  • Cooking water should be discarded as it may contain toxins produced by the fungus 
  • When cooking mushrooms, avoid inhaling vapours.
  • It is also recommended to only eat a tiny amount of a new mushroom and to stick to one new mushroom species at a time. This way, if you experience an allergic reaction, you’ll be able to pinpoint which mushroom caused it.


In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “Can you get sick from eating mushrooms, different types of mushrooms, symptoms associated with mushroom poisoning and ways to prevent it. 


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