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Monday, September 1, 2014
What symtoms should I look for in mushroom allergy and how can I help the patient identify if it is allergy or virus?
If you have a food allergy to mushrooms, you would experience a constellation of symptoms within 15 to 30 minutes after eating them. Symptoms may include some or all of the following: hives, itching, soft tissue swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, respiratory symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, dizziness and in extreme cases loss of consciousness due to vascular collapse (anaphylaxis). These reactions would occur relatively quickly each time you ate mushrooms whereas a viral syndrome would be an isolated event and not be reproducible. Another possibility is that you could have a food intolerance where gastrointestinal symptoms occur after eating mushrooms; the mechanism for this reaction is not due to specific allergic antibodies being produced in response to mushrooms. If you are unsure, you should see an allergist experienced in the evaluation and treatment of food allergy. They can determine whether you are truly sensitized to mushrooms and if you should avoid them in the future. If you did have a severe allergic reaction, you should carry with you an epinephrine injector in the event you inadvertently come in contact with mushrooms and have a severe reaction. This isn't necessary if you aren't sensitized (allergic) to mushrooms.
Jonathan Bernstein, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati