Stay Alive: Mushrooms

Health Tips

The summer forest draws to itself. But we, the townspeople, want to not just take a walk in the forest, admire its colors, get enough of smells and sounds. I want to return empty-handed. And this year, Russian nature, almost from the very spring, gives us an unprecedented harvest of mushrooms. Only the lazy will not pick up boletus, chanterelles, whites, and in the worst case, russula. However, the results of mushroom hunting do not always bring joy. It’s a delicate matter to stay alive after a mushroom feast.

Not everyone can boast of good knowledge of mushrooms today – especially the townspeople. Our own meager and rare encounters with nature are to blame, as well as the insidiousness of nature itself: poisonous mushrooms are often “disguised” as edible ones. Almost every year, in one or another region of central Russia, whole “epidemics” of mushroom poisoning occur. Last year, this happened in the Voronezh region, where many mushroom pickers and their relatives, including children, were poisoned by pseudo-russula. It would seem that the indisputable truth – if you have a little doubt about the origin of the fungus – it’s better not to risk it, throw it away. And yet “similar” mushrooms are poisoned regularly. But it is precisely many twin mushrooms that are very poisonous: the satanic mushroom resembles white, false mushrooms, false chanterelles – they imitate their edible namesakes very skillfully.

The most dangerous of the poisonous mushrooms in our country is the pale grebe. Unfortunately, it is most common in the Moscow and Vologda regions.. Pale grebe contains the strongest poisons – falloin, phalloidin, etc. These poisons are especially dangerous because they are not destroyed either by heat treatment or by drying. They cause serious damage to the kidneys and liver, which can lead to problems for the rest of your life – and this is even at best.

6-24 hours after the use of pale toadstool in any form, a person begins to show the first signs of poisoning: nausea and vomiting, colicky abdominal pain, diarrhea (sometimes with blood). Weakness develops due to dehydration. These symptoms resemble ordinary food poisoning and many, unfortunately, do not go to the doctor in a timely manner, allowing themselves to simply “lie down”. On the second or third day, renal-hepatic insufficiency develops with jaundice, urine output stops, and pressure drops sharply. A person begins to have impaired consciousness, lethargy, drowsiness, convulsions may begin.

Unfortunately, at this stage, a complete and traceless restoration of health is no longer possible. That is why you should not delay calling an ambulance or an independent trip to the hospital.

Poisoning by other poisonous mushrooms manifests itself much faster. In addition, other poisons are largely destroyed during prolonged heat treatment. For example, lines and morels, which many people eat completely fearlessly, in their raw form contain a fairly large amount of such an unstable poison – gelvellic acid. However, boiled for 10-20 minutes or dried (2-3 weeks), they are quite safe. However, you can’t call them useful either, and even more so for children. In addition, you can never be sure that a child will not try mushrooms directly in their raw form, and in this case, not only definitely poisonous, but also many of the conditionally edible mushrooms can lead to tragedy.

The same morels and lines can even be fatally poisoned if cooked incorrectly. In this case, after 4-10 hours, pain in the stomach and nausea begin, then severe vomiting occurs, a severe headache torments, the child becomes weak before our eyes. If you do not take action, on the second day there are signs of liver damage – jaundice. The kidneys also suffer – nephritis develops, the amount of urine decreases.

It seems incredible to many that can be confused with an edible mushroom, say, a classic fly agaric. However, these mushrooms do not always have their well-known signal bright red or orange color.. Often they are yellow and even greenish. After all, fly agarics – as far from everyone knows – are several different species, some of which, in their unfolded form, are very reminiscent of harmless russula. This is why they are insidious. After all, many russula are not even boiled before eating, but only lightly fried. By the way, the legends that boiled fly agarics are quite edible are also not entirely true: red and gray fly agarics are certainly poisonous even after processing.

The poisonous substance in the fly agaric – muscarine – once in the body after 2 hours causes the classic signs of food poisoning: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting. The hallmarks of fly agaric poisoning are increased saliva and sweat, constriction of the pupils, slowing of the heartbeat, hallucinations, delirium, and possible convulsions.

Serious poisonings with completely edible mushrooms have also become frequent. After all, mushrooms are very sensitive to the environmental situation, they, like a sponge, absorb everything that is contained in the surrounding world: air, water and earth. Many have heard that mushrooms actively absorb lead from exhaust gases. Today, motorists claim that the fuel of their iron horses no longer contains lead additives.

However, no one will argue that there is enough poison in our land, water and air, and even more so close to the “centers of civilization” without that. By the way, many believe that serious harm to their health can only be done if you use “environmentally polluted” mushrooms for years and decades. In fact, you can get seriously poisoned by some rather “unexpected” chemical compound, even once you have eaten well edible mushrooms.

How to help a person poisoned by mushrooms? Don’t try to treat yourself with home remedies and rely on “it will go away on its own”. Before seeing a doctor:

Renat MURZIN, resuscitator.

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