Research Article

Depression of sublingual temperature by cold saliva.

Br Med J 1975; 1 doi: (Published 29 March 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;1:718
  1. R E Sloan,
  2. W R Keatinge


    Sublingual and oesophageal temperatures were compared at various air temperatures in 16 subjects. In warm air (25-44 degrees C) sublingual temperatures stabilized within plus or minus 0-45 degrees C of oesophageal temperatures, but in air at room temperature (18-24 degrees C) they were sometimes as much as 1-1 degrees C below and in cold air (5-10 degrees C) as much as 4-4 degrees C below oesophageal readings. The sublingual-oesophageal temperature difference in cold air was greatly reduced by keeping the face warm, but it was not reduced in two patients breathing through tracheostomies and thereby eliminating cold air flow from the nose and pharynx. Parotid saliva temperature was low and saliva flow high during exposure, and cold saliva seemed to be mainly responsible for the erratic depression of sublingual temperature in the cold. These results indicate hazards in the casual use of sublingual temperatures, and indicate that external heat may have to be supplied to enable them to give reliable clinical assessments of body temperature.