Russians open another bottle of vodka and start again, the Chinese eat oats and peaches and the Scots swear by Irn-Bru.

But by far the majority of people across the globe rely on a cup of coffee and the "plink-plink fizz" of products such as Alka Seltzer to relieve their hangover.

The basic cause of that morning-after feeling - a pounding head and a mouth which tastes like you've been licking stones on the beach all night - is dehydration.

Alcohol is a diuretic, so an evening's drinking paradoxically leaves the body short of fluids. The result is to cause the blood vessels to dilate, increasing pressure on the brain and causing a headache.

The first thing most of us do after a heavy night is to extend a shaky hand for a coffee based on the idea it usually wakes you up in the morning.

But you should stay away from caffeinated drinks since they are also diuretic and will aggravate dehydration. Likewise, the hair of the dog,or alcohol the day after, will only make things worse.

There are no sure-fire cures - different things work for different people. But tried-and-tested methods include drinking lots of water - at least a pint - before you go to bed and eating simple foods such as dry toast and fruit.

Non-prescription pain relievers can be tough on your system when combined with alcohol so take them in the morning (rather than before you go to bed). By then, most of the alcohol will have left your system.

As in most things, prevention is better than the cure. Recent research recommends taking three grammes of Evening Primrose Oil before you go out. This is said to stop a hangover altogether.

Milk Thistle is said to protect the liver, so take a capsule when you go out and another with a pint of water before you go to bed.

Taking a vitamin C tablet for the few days leading up to your big night out may help your body clear the alcohol more quickly than it normally would.

Eating before drinking cuts blood-alcohol levels by up to 40 per cent, reducing the after-effects.

Breads and pasta will slow the absorption of alcohol. Milk and yoghurt are also reckoned to be good absorbers.

During the evening, try to stay away from sweet tropical drinks, such as zombies - which, ironically, were invented as a hangover cure - and pina coladas.

Sweet flavors make it difficult to know how much alcohol you are taking in and, some people feel the combination of the two makes the head spin.

Fruit juice and vitamins B and C can do no harm and, since alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach, something to settle it should help, which brings us back to Alka-Seltzer.

Sweet drinks the morning after can help to stabilise blood-sugar levels and restore energy which may explain the Scots' reliance on Irn-Bru.

A tablespoon or two of honey does wonders for some of us and, believe it or not, sauerkraut juice is supposed to neutralise those nasty toxins still in your system.

But if it is at all possible, sleep it off. Rest is the best thing to allow your body to repair itself.