We don't think about breathing, we just do it automatically. Things that we do automatically are called involuntary. Breathing is an involuntary action. We don't think about it, but a part of our brain controls it.

The brainstem is the part of the brain that controls our breathing. It is also responsible for other vital life support functions such as blood pressure and heartbeat. And, it controls sleep and wakefulness, as well as other reflexes. A stroke that occurs in this part of the brain is usually very serious. It may cause changes in the patients breathing rate and rhythm. The breathing may be too shallow, or it may be irregular.

Some patients are too sleepy to handle their saliva. They may not swallow well. This can affect how well they do with their breathing. Assistance may be needed from the medical staff. A breathing tube or airway may be inserted into the throat or nose to help the patient breathe better. A ventilator, or breathing machine may also be needed. The medical staff will suction saliva and sputum out of the breathing tube or airway to help keep it from plugging up. This will help to prevent choking and to keep fluid from going into the lungs.

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