Gluten-Free Allergy and Sinus Medicine

These OTC Products Can Help Stop Allergy Symptoms

woman with allergies in field

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It's not unusual for people who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity to also suffer from seasonal allergies or hives. But when you follow a gluten-free diet, you need to make sure that everything you put in your body—including allergy medication—is gluten free. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices when it comes to gluten-free allergy and sinus medications that are available over-the-counter.

Product Line Gluten Status
Advil Allergy and Sinus No gluten ingredients in any products
Allegra No gluten ingredients in any products
Benadryl One gluten-free product
Claritin All gluten-free products
Vick's Sinex Some gluten-free products
Vick's QlearQuil Some gluten-free products
Xyzal No gluten ingredients in any products
Zyrtec Some gluten-free products

Here's the list of gluten-free allergy and sinus medications. However, you should still use caution and double-check with the manufacturer before using these products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require drug labels to state whether a product contains gluten.

Advil Allergy and Sinus

No gluten ingredients

Advil allergy products with no gluten ingredients include:

  • Advil Allergy & Congestion Relief (4mg antihistamine chlorpheniramine maleate, 200mg ibuprofen, 10g phenylephrine HCI 10mg)
  • Advil Allergy Sinus (2mg chlorpheniramine maleate, 200mg ibuprofen, 30mg phenylephrine HCI)
  • Advil Sinus Congestion & Pain (10mg phenylephrine, 200mg ibuprofen)

According to manufacturer Pfizer Consumer Healthcare: "Gluten is not added to any Advil product during the manufacturing process. However, we cannot guarantee that minute amounts of gluten or gluten derivatives are not contained in raw materials obtained from various suppliers for our manufacturing process since the end product is not tested for gluten."

There's no gluten-free-labeled store-brand equivalent for Advil Cold & Sinus products, but you can substitute these two products, which include two of the active ingredients in Advil Allergy Sinus:

  • Target Up & Up Sinus PE tablets (30mg pseudoephedrine HCI)
  • Target Up & Up ibuprofen tablets (200mg ibuprofen)

Allegra

No gluten ingredients

Allegra, formerly a prescription medication, is billed as "24-hour allergy relief." It comes in:

  • Tablets
  • Gelcaps
  • An allergy and congestion formula (Allegra D)
  • Children's liquid and tablets

The active ingredient in Allegra adult tablets and Allegra gelcaps is fexofenadine HCI (an antihistamine). The active ingredients in Allegra allergy and congestion are fexofenadine HCI and pseudoephedrine HCI (a nasal decongestant).

According to manufacturer Chattem, Allegra does not contain any gluten ingredients, but Chattem is not willing to call it "gluten free":

"Because there is no standardized gluten-free certification process, Allegra is not certified as gluten free, but none of the ingredients are derived from wheat, barley, spelt, oats, or rye. Corn gluten is present in the pregelatinized starch; however, this type of gluten is not gliadin gluten, to which some people develop a sensitivity. Finally, Allegra does not contain and is not derived from dairy, lactose, casein, eggs, iodine, peanuts, shellfish, soy, taic, tree nuts, or whey."

A possible gluten-free store-brand substitute for Allegra is:

  • Walgreens Wal-Fex (same active ingredient as Allegra)

Benadryl

One gluten-free product

Benadryl comes in three adult formulas, but only one of the three is considered gluten free:

  • Allergy Dye-Free Liquigels (25mg diphenhydramine HCl) (gluten-free)
  • Allergy Ultratab tablets (25mg diphenhydramine HCl) (not gluten-free)
  • Allergy Plus Congestion Ultratab tablets (25mg diphenhydramine HCl, 10mg phenylephrine HCl) (not gluten-free)

According to Benadryl manufacturer McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of pharmacy giant Johnson & Johnson, only the Benadryl dye-free liquid gels product is considered gluten free.

Some people swear by Benadryl as an over-the-counter remedy for some of the symptoms people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity may experience when they accidentally ingest gluten. However, there's little evidence Benadryl can help alleviate glutening symptoms.

There's one possible gluten-free store-brand substitute for Benadryl allergy products:

  • QlearQuil Nighttime Allergy caplets (contains the same active ingredient as Benadryl Allergy Ultratab tablets and Benadryl Allergy Dye-Free Liquigels)

Claritin

All gluten-free products

Claritin, formerly a prescription medication, is available in several formulations, all of which are considered gluten free:

  • 24-hour relief (tablets, reditabs, and liquigels)
  • 12-hour relief (reditabs)
  • 12-hour and 24-hour allergy plus congestion (tablets)
  • Children's Claritin

All contain the active ingredient loratadine (5mg or 10mg, depending on the product), which is an antihistamine. Claritin-D also contains pseudoephedrine sulfate (either 120mg or 240mg, depending on the product), which is a nasal decongestant. All formulations are gluten-free, according to manufacturer Bayer HealthCare.

Possible gluten-free store-brand substitutes for Claritin include:

  • QlearQuil Daytime 24-Hour All Day/All Night Allergy Relief tablets with loratadine 10mg
  • Target Up & Up loratadine 10mg tablets
  • Walgreens Wal-Itin loratadine 10mg tablets

Vick's Sinex and QlearQuil

Some gluten-free products

Sinex and QlearQuil decongestants are made by Vicks, which has an extensive line of gluten-free cough, cold, and flu medications.

Gluten-free Sinex and QlearQuil products include:

  • Sinex Severe Ultra Fine Mist (oxymetazoline HCl 0.05%)
  • Sinex Moisturizing Ultra Fine Mist (oxymetazoline HCl 0.05%)
  • Sinex Scent Free Ultra Fine Mist (oxymetazoline HCl 0.05%)
  • Sinex Severe Nasal Spray (oxymetazoline HCl 0.05%)
  • Sinex Daytime Sinus liquicaps (5mg phenylephrine HCI, 325mg acetaminophen)
  • QlearQuil Daytime Sinus liquicaps (5mg phenylephrine HCI, 325mg acetaminophen)
  • QlearQuil Nighttime Sinus liquicaps (5mg phenylephrine HCI, 6.25mg doxylamine succinate, 325mg acetaminophen)
  • QlearQuil Moisturizing nasal spray (oxymetazoline HCl 0.05%)
  • QlearQuil Daytime 24-Hour All Day/All Night Allergy Relief tablets (10mg loratadine)
  • QlearQuil Nighttime Allergy caplets (25mg diphenhydramine hydrochloride)

Note that Sinex/QlearQuil products not on the above list are not considered by the manufacturer to be gluten free, so steer clear.

Xyzal

No gluten ingredients

This 24-hour allergy medication is a relative newcomer to the over-the-counter allergy medications market. Xyzal comes in adult and children's formulations and contains the active ingredient levocetirizine dihydrochloride, which ia an antihistamine.

According to manufacturer Chattem: "None of the ingredients contain or are derived from barley, oats, rye, spelt, or wheat. As there is no standardized gluten-free certification process for medicines, Xyzal Allergy 24HR tablets are not certified as gluten free." Note that the allergen information on Xyzcal states that it contains lactose monohydrate from processed milk.

Xyzal is similar to the allergy medication Zyrtec, which does have gluten-free alternatives (see below).

Zyrtec

Some gluten-free products

Zyrtec, formerly a prescription medication, is billed as a 24-hour allergy medication. It's available in these formulations:

  • Liquid gels (gluten-free)
  • Zyrtec-D Allergy & Congestion (gluten-free)
  • Adult tablets (not gluten-free)
  • Dissolve tablets (not gluten-free)

The active ingredient is cetirizine hydrochloride, an antihistamine. Zyrtec-D, the allergy plus congestion formula, adds the nasal decongestant pseudoephedrine HCl. Both the liquid gels and the Allergy & Congestion formula have been tested and were found to be gluten-free, according to Johnson & Johnson, which says the other two formulations have no gluten ingredients: "We do not knowingly use gluten-containing ingredients in any of our Zyrtec products."

Possible gluten-free store-brand substitutes for Zyrtec include:

  • Target Up & Up cetrizine hydrochloride 10mg tablets
  • Walgreens Wal-Zyr cetrizine hydrochloride 10mg tablets

A Word From Verywell

If you suffer from allergies, it's not difficult to find over-the-counter allergy medications that are gluten free. There are gluten-free options for every brand-name allergy medication and almost every formulation.

Be careful when taking over-the-counter allergy medicines, however, since some may cause drowsiness and can affect your driving. Also, note that some over-the-counter allergy medications contain the same active ingredients as gluten-free cold and flu medications. Never take more than the recommended dose, and don't take more than one product at the same time without talking to your doctor first.

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