Can Mushrooms Grow In Your Stomach?
If you are worried about mushrooms from your plate starting a colony once they end up in your stomach, no. They have probably been harvested some time ago, chopped and cooked, just to end up in the pool of gastric acid. Very little chances of surviving that.
You have a lot more chances of causing a lung infection from leftover spores you release into the environment after brushing the mushrooms than you are to grow some in your stomach after eating them.
This doesn’t mean that fungi can hurt your tummy at all – you can still develop a gastrointestinal fungal infection. Though in this case, it’s more about the problem arising from within.
“What about that Chinese woman who had a mushroom extracted from her stomach?”
You should take that story with a huge grain of salt. All of the publications that published that story are a bit questionable and/or known for their clickbait content. As of now, there are no credible publications or peer-reviewed papers that covered this “discovery”.
If you heard about this for the first time, the story is that a 50-year old woman in China had surgery to remove a mushroom after it grew in her stomach. The claim was that she cooked dry mushrooms that she didn’t soak first and, wait for this, didn’t chew properly. A little your-face-will-get-stuck-like-that, don’t you think?
Why should you be skeptical?
First, the above-mentioned stomach acid. Gastric acid is strong enough to dissolve metal, let alone a humble mushroom. It’s roughly the same acidity as battery acid. So, if you are in the mood for a little experiment, put a mushroom in some battery acid, and see what happens.
The same thing goes for spores. As they are a lot smaller and more fragile than a fully grown mushroom, they are even less likely to survive a gastric acid bath.
Finally, edible mushrooms are not really known for their messianic qualities, and are very unlikely to come back to life after they were harvested, dried, cooked, and eaten.
What about stomach fungal infections?
Yes, but it will not come from edible mushrooms. One of the infections can come from Candida overgrowth. This yeast usually peacefully coexist with us in our bodies but can cause major issues if there’s too much of it.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal fungal infections
The most common symptoms can be confused for a run of the mill stomach bug. There’s abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting, but also fever, melena, hemorrhage, and sudden chills. You may experience some changes to your skin and nails (though topical candida infections are a thing, they are always connected to what’s going on inside your body.
If you suffer from regular sinus and/or urinary infections, you should get tested as well. Testing is done on several different bodily fluids, with urine and a blood test being the most common ones.
Treating gastrointestinal fungal infections
In the US, the treatment includes oral medication like nystatin or amphotericin B. The treatment for minor infections lasts about 2 weeks on average, and you’re cleared once the fungus can’t be detected in your bloodstream anymore. More serious ones can take months or longer.
The exact medication (or cocktail) will depend not only on the severity of the infection but also on the patient’s age, immune status, and prior medical history.
Preventing gastrointestinal fungal infections
People who are at a higher risk are the ones who recently had to go through serious medical interventions, those with diabetes, are immunocompromised or have suffered kidney failure, those who have other digestive system issues, and pre-term babies.
In those cases, the smartest thing to do is to be a safe patient.Your doctor should also add anti-fungal medication to your regular therapy.
Other than that, wash your hands properly.
Yeast allergy and intolerance
Yeast allergy is the most common form of mushroom allergy. Fun fact, baking powder was invented because by Alfred Bird because his wife had a yeast allergy (she was also allergic to eggs, and that’s why he invented powdered custard as well).
Yeast allergy has very similar symptoms as celiac disease or lactose intolerance. It will result in bloating, gas, diarrhea, and general stomach discomfort. There is also a high possibility of a skin rash. And you will know you have it if you experience these symptoms every time you drink beer, eat bread, moldy cheese, Marmite, etc.
Most sufferers develop a mild form of this type of allergy, but sometimes it can get severe enough and require an EPI pen.