UPDATED: 4/12/11 9:30 p.m.

MELROSE PARK (CBS) — An area allergist who records the official allergy count for the Midwest predicts this could be one of the worst allergy seasons ever for Chicago-area residents.

As CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports, the winds Tuesday night were actually sweeping pollen out of the city. But during the day, you might have noticed the sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes. If so, you’re not alone.

The 100 worst cities for allergies in the United States was recently released and Chicago “worsened” from a 2010 ranking of 83 to a new low of 78, according to a release from Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park.

“Tree pollen is already unseasonably high, rising in number by 50 percent in one day,” according to Dr. Joseph Leija, an allergist who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official count for the Midwest.

It looks like springtime paradise, but for allergy suffers, it’s sneezin’ season, CBS 2 Pamela Jones reports.

“When you see the blooms blooming, I’m like, ‘Oh no, here it comes,’ “ said one allergy sufferer.

Patients have been lined up to see Dr. Leija.

“The worst year was in 08, and the past two years it was mild, but this year it was a much higher count,” Leija said.

Allergy sufferer Amy Mostaccio says she watches pollen counts and takes year-round allergy shots.

“Pretty much, anything under the sun … green trees, grasses molds, dust and dust mites.  Those are the big ones.  How do you live outside a bubble? Allergy shots,” she said.

Dr. Leija says when pollen counts are high, it might not be a day for a long walk for a job outdoors, especially between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. when pollen counts are highest.

He also suggests rinsing out your nose every night before bed.

And, he says, it could be a lot worse–if it weren’t for one of Chicago most-precious natural resources.

“The winds blowing east over Lake Michigan help move a lot of pollen out of our system or our counts would be much higher,” Leija said. “Still, the windy city is the sneezing city, and I predict Chicagoans will experience one of the worst allergy seasons ever.”

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed