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How Poisonous Are Death Cap Mushrooms?

Death cap mushrooms–just the name is enough to make the casual reader shudder. But are they really poisonous? And if so, just how poisonous are death cap mushrooms? Is there any antidote for them?

Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more!

Why is the Death Cap Mushroom Toxic?

why is the death cap mushroom toxic

The death cap mushroom has highly toxic compounds in its flesh that can cause irreparable harm and even death. And the scary part is, you may not even realize you’ve ingested this poison until it’s too late.

Amanitin is the most damaging toxin in death caps. According to the National Library of Medicine, this toxin interferes with RNA polymerase II, causing protein deficit and cell death in major organs such as the liver and kidneys.

There’s no question you want to avoid eating death cap mushrooms. The problem is, even if you’re an experienced forager, it’s easy to mistake death caps for edible mushrooms. 

More people are poisoned by death caps than all other mushrooms combined. They account for up to 90 percent of mushroom related deaths because it’s so easy to misidentify them.

Death caps smell sweet and potato-like–far from the bitter or overpowering aroma you might expect from a deadly poison. These mushrooms also taste good, according to many people who have eaten them and survived.

Check out this video to learn more about properly identifying death cap mushrooms:

What Happens if You Eat a Death Cap Mushroom?

Death caps don’t cause noticeable symptoms right away. Toxins begin attacking liver cells almost immediately, but symptoms don’t appear until a significant amount of liver damage has been sustained.

The first symptoms to appear are typically severe vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. These symptoms can cause rapid dehydration and death within the first day or two after ingesting the mushrooms.

Over the next several days additional symptoms such as seizures, coma, jaundice, eventually death may occur. These symptoms are caused by the different stages of kidney and liver failure as the mushroom toxins continue to cause damage over several days.

Can a Death Cap Mushroom Kill You?

can a death cap mushroom kill you

As noted above, death caps are some of the deadliest mushrooms in the world. Just how deadly are they?

The death rate among those who eat death caps and don’t receive proper treatment is about 50 percent. Even with treatment, up to 13 percent of death cap poisoning patients die. 

Whether or not a person dies from eating death caps depends on how quickly they’re diagnosed and treated, as well as how much of the mushrooms they ate.

Even those who don’t die from eating death caps may be left with permanent organ damage.

It’s worth noting that you have to eat a death cap to be at risk of dying from it. Simply touching a death cap won’t harm you, as the toxins are inside the mushroom and can’t be absorbed topically.

How Long Does it Take for Death Cap Mushrooms to Kill You?

One thing that makes death caps so deadly is that they don’t produce symptoms right away, so you won’t know to begin treating for mushroom poisoning until much of the damage has already been done.

The first symptoms won’t even appear until at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours after eating a death cap. You can die from these initial symptoms if you become severely dehydrated, but more often than not, death comes later, after organ failure has set in.

A lot of times, after the initial wave of gastrointestinal symptoms, you will begin to feel better over the next several days, unaware that your liver and kidneys are continually being damaged by the toxins still in your bloodstream.

In all, it may take anywhere from 4 to 12 days from the time of consumption until your liver and kidneys shut down and you die.

How Many Death Cap Mushrooms Does it Take to Kill You?

A single death cap contains enough toxins to kill several adults.

If you eat more than one mushroom, your chances of survival drop significantly. Symptoms may come on more quickly or more severely, and complete organ shutdown may happen in only a few days.

What Does it Feel Like to Die From Eating a Death Cap Mushroom?

Initially, you may feel fine. You will not notice any pain or discomfort for the first several hours after eating death caps.

Once the liver and kidneys have received significant damage, you may begin to feel cold, clammy, and sick. Nausea and stomach cramps will set in, followed by vomiting and diarrhea.

In most cases, symptoms will get progressively worse over several hours. The vomiting and diarrhea may get so bad that you die of dehydration; in most cases, though, these symptoms will eventually diminish, making you think the worst has passed.

Liver- and kidney-related symptoms may present over the next several days; you may have to urinate more frequently than normal and may experience some ongoing abdominal pain. You may begin to feel better after 4 or 5 days.

If the liver and kidneys don’t recover, they will fail within 4 to 12 days after poisoning. This will cause severe relapse symptoms such as seizures, coma, and decrease in blood pressure, eventually leading to death.

Death from a death cap is very painful and frightening especially because it doesn’t happen quickly.

Is There an Antidote for Death Cap Mushrooms?

Is there a cure for death cap mushroom

Death caps have no specific antidote. 

Death cap poisoning is treated by gastrointestinal decontamination, or removing the toxins from the bowels by flushing them out. Some drugs can also be used to remove toxins and lessen symptoms, and a liver or kidney transplant may be necessary. 

If you think you’re experiencing death cap poisoning, drink lots of water to avoid water and nutrient loss, take activated charcoal or carbon to absorb some of the toxins, and get to the hospital immediately.

Even if symptoms seem mild or get better with self treatment, it is necessary to seek professional help to avoid total liver and kidney failure.

Conclusion

Death cap mushrooms are some of the most poisonous mushrooms in the world. If you or someone you know has been poisoned by death caps, seek professional help immediately. 

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