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 allergy symptoms like hives. When you follow a gluten-free diet, you need to make sure that everything that you put in your body—including medication—is gluten-free.

Fortunately, there are plenty of 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

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require drug labels to state whether a product contains gluten.

While the following is a list of gluten-free allergy and sinus medications, you should always use caution. Double-check with the manufacturer before using these (or any) products.

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

"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."

— Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, manufacturer statement.

There is no gluten-free-labeled, store-brand equivalent for Advil Cold & Sinus products. However, there are two products that you can substitute, each of which includes the two of the active ingredients in Advil Allergy Sinus:

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

Allegra

No gluten ingredients

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

  • Allergy and congestion formula (Allegra D)
  • Children's liquid and tablets
  • Gelcaps
  • 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 Chattem (the product's manufacturer), Allegra does not contain any gluten ingredients. However, Chattem is not willing to call the product "gluten-free." The manufacturer states that:

"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. Only one is considered gluten-free:

  • Allergy Dye-Free Liquigels (25mg diphenhydramine HCl)

The other two formulations are not considered gluten-free:

  • Allergy Plus Congestion Ultratab tablets (25mg diphenhydramine HCl, 10mg phenylephrine HCl)
  • Allergy Ultratab tablets (25mg diphenhydramine HCl)

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

Some people who have celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity swear by Benadryl as an over-the-counter remedy for some of the symptoms they experience if they accidentally ingest gluten. However, there is little evidence that Benadryl can help alleviate these gluten-related 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 the formulations are considered gluten-free:

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

All of these Claritin products contain the active ingredient loratadine (5mg or 10mg, depending on the product), an antihistamine. Claritin-D also contains a nasal decongestant (pseudoephedrine sulfate, either 120mg or 240mg, depending on the product).

All Claritin's allergy product formulations are gluten-free, according to the 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. The manufacturer has an extensive line of gluten-free cough, cold, and flu medications.

Gluten-free Sinex and QlearQuil products include:

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

Sinex/QlearQuil products that do not appear on the list above are not considered to be gluten-free by the manufacturer.

Xyzal

No gluten ingredients

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

"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."

— Chattem (manufacturer)

For consumers with allergies, it's also important to 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 marketed as a 24-hour allergy medication. There are two gluten-free formulations:

  • Liquid gels
  • Zyrtec-D Allergy & Congestion

The following Zyrtec formulations are not gluten-free:

  • Adult tablets
  • Dissolve tablets

The active ingredient in Zyrtec's formula is an antihistamine called cetirizine hydrochloride. 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.

Regarding the other two products (Adult and dissolve tabs) the manufacturer states that they contain 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 cetirizine hydrochloride 10mg tablets

A Word From Verywell

If you suffer from allergies, you'll be relieved to find that 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) on the market.

However, be careful when taking any over-the-counter allergy medicines. Some may cause drowsiness, which could affect your driving or other activities.

Additionally, be aware 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 do not take more than one product at the same time without talking to your doctor first.

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